Typical Symptoms Of Mild Coronavirus Cases
Weve spoken to some of our co-workers here at GoodRx about what are being called mild symptoms of COVID-19. Weve also spoken to healthcare professionals on the frontlines who have been affected themselves, or who have seen and heard many first-hand accounts of mild coronavirus infection in their patients and relatives.
Heres what we heard:
Fever is common. The fever is often high, reaching above and beyond 100.4°F. It can last for many days, or just a few. Not everyone we spoke to had a fever, though.
Tiredness and weakness are severe. People report being unable to stay awake and sleeping up to 20 hours a day.
Loss of appetite, loss of smell, or loss of taste is a common symptom. Many people say they have to force themselves to eat or drink.
Nausea, diarrhea, or both, are often experienced. Some people have these symptoms just once others can get them for the whole time they are unwell.
Muscle aches, especially in the upper body and neck, are common. Headaches, too.
Some have a runny nose and sore throat.
Not many folks with mild COVID-19 have a cough or shortness of breath.
It often takes a full 10 to 14 days to feel well again, and sometimes more.
Its scary: With a cold or the flu you know youre going to get better. With confirmed or suspected COVID-19, you have no guarantee, and your mind races.
Persistent Symptoms Or Organ Dysfunction After Acute Covid
There have been an increasing number of reports of patients who experience persistent symptoms and/or organ dysfunction after acute COVID-19. Data about the incidence, natural history, and etiology of these symptoms are emerging. However, these reports have several limitations. For example, there is currently no agreed-upon case definition for persistent symptoms or organ dysfunction after acute COVID-19. In addition, most of these reports only included patients who attended post-COVID-19 clinics, and they often lack comparator groups. No specific treatments for the persistent effects of COVID-19 have yet been identified, although this COVID-19 rapid guideline proposes general management strategies.
Some of the symptoms overlap with the post-intensive care syndrome that has been described in patients without COVID-19, but prolonged symptoms and disabilities after COVID-19 have also been reported in patients with milder illness, including outpatients .37,38
Despite the limitations of the available descriptive data on these persistent symptoms, some representative studies have suggested that common findings include fatigue, joint pain, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, cognitive impairment, and worsened quality of life.39,40
Could Omicron Lead To Long Covid
Though much remains unknown about omicron, experts say the variant could lead to long Covid, even with a mild case.
Patients with long-term symptoms can experience crushing fatigue, irregular heart rhythms and other issues months after their initial Covid infection. This occurred during the first wave of the pandemic, and has continued to lead to long Covid issues through the delta wave.
“We should assume that this variant can do the same thing that previous variants have until proven otherwise,” Lee, of CUNY, said.
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Experts Say Just A Single Symptom Is Enough To Warrant Testing
Because its pretty much impossible to distinguish between a cold and a breakthrough COVID infection based on symptoms alone, experts like Bhuyan said it is essential that people get tested.
Ive had patients with one symptom who think, This cant be COVID. Im vaccinated. Then theyll come in for testing, Bhuyan said, and in some instances, they have, in fact, had a breakthrough COVID infection.
So Bhuyan recommended that you get a COVID test if you have any symptoms, particularly if youre in an area of high transmission, even if youve just got the sniffles or a headache. One symptom is enough.
Its not just individual doctors who urge that kind of caution the CDC does, too. If you have any symptoms, get tested, the agency says. Fortunately, the growth of at-home testing options makes that logistically simpler, although PCR tests remain the gold standard.
If it is COVID, its recommended you isolate for 10 days or until you test negative. That being said, some people believe we are making vaccinated people with mild breakthrough infections isolate for too long. It can be profoundly challenging to step away from work and family for 10 days, and emerging evidence suggests that people who have mild breakthroughs are unlikely to contribute to an outbreak after more than a few days.
For now, however, its really important to err on the side of testing if you have any symptoms at all and if you happen to test positive isolate accordingly.
And New Fda Guidance May Help Prioritize Viral Load Tracking
To date, tracking viral loads in COVID patients hasn’t been a top priority. But many are hoping that changes with new guidance from the United States Food and Drug Administration . On Dec. 10, they said that clinical labs could consider reporting an estimate of one’s viral load alongside their coronavirus infection results.
“This is a very important move by the FDA,” Michael Mina, MD, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times. “I think it’s a step in the right direction to making the most use of one of the only pieces of data we have for many positive individuals.” And for more on the current state of the pandemic, These Are the Only 4 States Where COVID Isn’t Surging.
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Experts Say Tracking Patients’ Viral Loads Can Help Allocate Resources
Daniel Griffin, MD, an infectious disease physician at Columbia University, told The New York Times that tracking viral loads “can actually help us stratify risk.” And this has been documented several times in research throughout the course of the pandemic.
Griffin says knowing the viral load of a patient can help hospital workers mitigate needs between patients by predicting the course of their case. For instance, some patients may only need an oxygen check once a day while others may need to be monitored more closely, as they have a higher risk of complications. And for coronavirus symptoms you should know, check out The Earliest Signs You Have COVID, According to Johns Hopkins.
Antibody Protection After Mild Covid
A ‘2G’ rule sign, allowing only those vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus disease to enter indoor areas, is displayed at a window of a restaurant in Marburg, Germany, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
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Antibody protection from mild COVID-19 may not last
Nearly everyone who had a mild case of COVID-19 still has antibodies to the coronavirus a year later, but that might not protect them from new variants, a small study suggests. Among 43 Australians who dealt with mild COVID-19 early in the pandemic, 90% still had antibodies 12 months later. But only 51.2% had antibodies that showed “neutralizing activity” against the original version of the virus and only 44.2% had antibodies that could neutralize the early Alpha variant, the research team at the University of Adelaide reported on Thursday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Neutralizing antibodies against the now dominant and highly transmissible Delta variant were seen in only 16.2%, with 11.6% against Gamma, and against Beta in only 4.6%. Those who had mild COVID-19 “are vulnerable to infection with circulating and newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants 12 months after recovery,” the researchers said. The findings “reinforce the potential benefit” of tailoring vaccine boosters to currently circulating variants, similar to how annual flu vaccines are tailored to current influenza strains, they said.
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Could I Get Long Covid After A Breakthrough Infection
While theres not a lot of data yet, research does show that breakthrough infections can lead to the kind of persistent symptoms that characterize long covid, including brain fog, fatigue and headaches. Hopefully that number is low. Hopefully it doesnt last as long and its not as severe, but its just too early to know these things, Topol said.
Recent research from the United Kingdom suggests that vaccinated people are about 50% less likely to develop long covid than those who are unvaccinated.
This story is from a reporting partnership that includes NPR and KHN.
How You Might Feel While Recovering
Not everyone who catches SARS-CoV-2 will notice symptoms. If you do get them, they may show up 2 to 14 days after your infection. And those symptoms can vary from one person to the next.
One of the most common signs is a fever, which for most adults is 100.4 F or higher. It means your body is trying to fight off an invader.
Some people who had COVID-19 said they had trouble taking deep breaths and felt like they had a tight band wrapped around their chest. Others have likened the illness to a bad cold. Still others said it was the sickest theyve ever felt.
Loss of smell and taste have been reported in many cases. Some patients have skin rashes and darkened toes, called COVID toes.
You might feel short of breath, as if youd just run to grab a ringing phone. If so, call your doctor to ask about what you should do.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Omicron
Early evidence suggests that for most people, at least for those who are up to date on their Covid vaccines, omicron appears to result in mild illness that can resemble the common cold, another form of the coronavirus. Poehling, who is also a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which helps guide the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions decisions on vaccines, said there appear to be prominent symptoms from omicron:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Congestion and runny nose
Unlike in previous variants, the loss of taste and smell seems to be uncommon, she said.
But Poehling and other experts say those symptoms are based on early reports of omicron cases, not scientific studies.
“Anecdotal reports represent just one person,” said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of health policy and management at the City University of New York School of Public Health. “We have to take them with a grain of salt.”
What’s more, they may only reflect certain segments of the population: young and otherwise healthy, as well as those who are fully vaccinated.
“It is clear that if you’re vaccinated, particularly if youve had a booster, omicron tends to produce milder infections,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
“What we haven’t seen yet is a substantial body of information about what omicron will do in unvaccinated people,” he added.
Loss Of Smell From Covid Most Likely Means Youve Got A Mild Case Study Finds
Losing your sense of smell might indicate that you have a mild case of COVID-19, according to a study published earlier this year. Statistics show that patients suffering moderate and severe cases of the infection are far less likely to experience the symptom.
In a study of 2,581 patients from 18 European hospitals, patients suffered a loss of smell in 85.9 percent of mild cases of COVID-19. Thats compared to 4.5 percent in moderate Covid-19 cases and nearly 7 percent in severe-to-critical cases. While those figures were patient-reported, objective clinical evaluations found a loss of smell in 54.7 percent of mild COVID cases and 36.6 percent of moderate-to-critical cases.
Mild cases were defined as patients without evidence of viral pneumonia or hypoxia a lack of oxygen who usually recovered at home, while severe cases involved being taken to hospital.
The study examined the prevalence and recovery in patients with varying degrees of severity of the virus. Olfactory dysfunction is more prevalent in mild COVID-19 forms than in moderate-to-critical forms, and 95 percent of patients recover their sense of smell at six months post-infection, says professor Jerome Lechien, a lead author of the study at Paris-Saclay University in France, in a statement.
Young patients could have a higher rate of anosmia compared with elderly people.
The study is published in The Journal of Internal Medicine.
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Fever Chills Cough Shortness Of Breath And Loss Of Taste And Smell Continue To Be Hallmark Covid Symptoms
COVID symptoms can pop up anywhere between two and 14 days after an exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but on average, it takes about five or six days. Many of the mild symptoms you should be looking for within that window are those weve heard about all along: fever and/or chills, a cough and shortness of breath though all of those can range in intensity.
Loss of taste and smell continue to be really common mild cases, too. Some estimates suggest that more than half of people who have really mild cases lose their sense of smell to some degree.
What Is Mild Coronavirus
Large volume studies from China showed that around 81% of people infected with coronavirus had what were described as mild symptoms.
We dont have a whole lot of data about what the symptoms of mild coronavirus are or how common they are. Thats because most people affected rightly stay home, and many still do not have access to testing. Until there is random testing of the entire population and routine surveys of symptoms, we will not have a clear understanding of how widespread the SARS-CoV-2 infection is, nor will we know the full picture of how the virus can affect us.
And even for those who are currently being tested, there are many false negative tests. False negatives happen when a test doesnt correctly identify a positive case as positive. It can happen because the sample wasnt collected properly, or because the sensitivity of the test just isnt strong enough.
This means that what we know about the symptoms of COVID-19 comes from people who are hospitalized with their symptoms. This will change as we become better acquainted with SARS-CoV-2 and the illness it causes. But right now we dont know a lot about people with mild or non-severe COVID-19 who stay at home.
What we do know, from reading published case reports of individual cases, and speaking with people who have had COVID-19, is that not everyone with coronavirus infection feels the same. While many people have symptoms that fit into predictable patterns, there are always exceptions.
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Breakthrough Covid Infections Add Even More Chaos To School’s Start In 2021
I ended up in quarantine at my father’s house. Two rapid antigen tests came back negative, but I could tell I was starting to feel sick. After my second negative test, the nurse leveled with me. “Don’t hang your hat on this,” she said of the results. Sure enough, a few days later the results of a PCR test for the coronavirus confirmed what had become obvious by then.
It was a miserable five days. My legs and arms ached, my fever crept up to 103 and every few hours of sleep would leave my sheets drenched in sweat. I’d drop into bed exhausted after a quick trip down to the kitchen. To sum it up, I’d put my breakthrough case of COVID-19 right up there with my worst bouts of flu. Even after my fever cleared up, I spent the next few weeks feeling low.
Of course, I am very lucky. I didn’t go up against the virus with a naive immune system, like millions of Americans did until vaccines were widely available. And, in much of the world, vaccines are still a distant promise.
“You probably would have gotten much sicker if you had not been vaccinated,” Francesca Torriani, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Diego, explained to me recently.
As I shuffled around my room checking my fever, it was also reassuring to know that my chances of ending up in the hospital were slim, even with the delta variant. And now, about a month later, I’ve made a full recovery.
In What Order Do Symptoms Typically Appear
Symptom order can vary from one person to the next, but you may be curious about which COVID-19 symptoms are most likely to appear first.
An used mathematical modeling to predict the likely order of certain COVID-19 symptoms. Data from 55,924 people with confirmed COVID-19 was used for the study.
The symptoms investigated included fever, cough, and digestive symptoms. The researchers found that the predicted order of symptoms was:
A separate dataset of 1,099 people with confirmed COVID-19 was then used in the model. This group was divided into two categories severe and non-severe illness.
The predicted symptom order was the same for this smaller dataset as it was in the first dataset for 55,924 people. It was also the same between individuals with severe and non-severe illness.
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How Worried Should I Be About Omicron
Cases of omicron are doubling about every two days. In the past week, the percentage of omicron cases in the United States rose from 13 percent to 73 percent.
“The major question for everyone right now isn’t whether omicron is going to hit their area. It will,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“The question,” he said, “is how much disease will it cause?”
Experts continue to urge people to get vaccinated and get a booster shot to reduce the risk for severe illness.
As of Tuesday, about 61 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated. Just under 30 percent had the booster shot.
“This is going to hit us hard,” Poehling, of Wake Forest Baptist, said. But she added that the sheer speed of omicron’s spread could mean that the variant will run its course quickly. “If you look at South Africa, they seem to be doing much better now. I don’t anticipate this as long lasting.”