By Kelly Sargent
You've probably heard on the news that coronavirus cases have risen dramatically around the world. Here in the US the seven-day new case average has tripled since mid-June. As of July 25 almost 4,200,000 Americans have been infected and at least 146,000 have died.
We're all tired of having to wear masks, constantly washing our hands and not being able to go out to restaurants, theaters and social events without fear of getting sick. It's important not to let down your guard now, though. Infections are surging, the disease is still potentially fatal, and many who contract it find they're left with serious, long-term negative health consequences.
Although a recent analysis by the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that most patients exhibit one of three symptoms: fever, cough or shortness of breath — coronavirus symptoms are wide-ranging.
To help you remember, here's the list of symptoms we shared with you in April.
Graphic credit: City of Lincoln, Nebraska
The World Health Organization reported that 88% of individuals infected with COVID-19 experienced a fever. But what temperature qualifies as having a fever? The 98.6 degree Fahrenheit benchmark we've grown up memorizing as 'normal' was arrived at in the mid-1800's, and it's been gradually dropping throughout the population ever since. It's now the exception rather than the rule. In fact 75% of us have a normal body temperature lower than that, so it's important to know what 'normal' is for you. Most adults are considered feverish when their temperature hits 100 F. Fever often elevates in the late afternoon or early evening which makes that an ideal time to check.
2. Difficulty breathing
Although shortness of breath isn't usually the first symptom of coronavirus infection, it's an extremely serious one. Medical experts say that it's important to seek medical attention if you can't breathe deeply enough to take in a normal breath or if you experience persistent pain or pressure in your chest.
3. Dry Cough
A persistent cough is another prevalent warning sign, but doctors say that it's not just any cough; it's not a tickle in your throat or the urge to clear your throat. It's a dry cough that feels as though it emanates from deep inside your chest.
4. Chills and body aches
It may be difficult for those with less pronounced symptoms to distinguish coronavirus chills and achy muscles and joints from flu symptoms. One gauge: if your symptoms don't improve after about a week, but get worse instead, it may be a sign that you're dealing with the coronavirus and not the flu.
5. Extreme fatigue
A World Health Organization study found that nearly 40% of COVID-19 patients experienced extreme fatigue. Journalist Chris Cuomo said he was so exhausted that he would he would take what he thought was a 10-minute nap when it had actually been three and half hours.
6. Inability to wake up
The CDC warns that sudden confusion or the inability to wake up to full alertness, especially in conjunction with other critical signs such as bluish lips and fever, has a high probability of being a medical emergency. Call 911.
7. Loss of smell or taste
A recent review of eight studies found that a loss of smell and taste is often one of the earliest signs of COVID-19. A loss of smell in particular may be an indicator of a mild case, but for your sake and that of those you may be exposing, it's important to take this early symptom seriously.
8. Digestive issues
In the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, diarrhea and other digestive symptoms didn't seem to be warning signs. But as the infection has spread yielding more cases and more data, a study revealed milder cases in which the initial symptoms were digestive issues without a fever.
9. Headache, sore throat and congestion
A WHO report also found that almost 14% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases they analyzed suffered headache, sore throat and nasal congestion, symptoms that can be difficult to distinguish from a cold or flu, so consider the totality of how you're feeling.
10. Pink eye
Researchers found that about 1% to 3% of those infected with COVID-19 had conjunctivitis, a highly contagious condition also known as pink eye.
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