Whether you had a “bad cold” this winter or recently sustained a cough that would not give up, its only natural to wonder if you might have had COVID-19 without realizing it. Thats specifically true now that infectious illness specialists say the virus was likely already spreading prior to cities started to lock down and put social distancing orders in location.
” As the weeks progress, its ended up being obvious that this is a virus that was prevalent throughout our country, particularly in more populated locations, sooner than we thought,” says William Schaffner, M.D., a transmittable illness specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Could you have had COVID-19 without realizing it? Plus, some people have no symptoms at all– up to 40% of infections, according to quotes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Unfortunately, theres no other way to understand with 100% certainty if that illness you dealt with last winter season was COVID-19 or if you occurred to get an asymptomatic case at some time. Professionals state some indications can be tip-offs that you might have had COVID-19 currently. Here are the leading ones to understand, plus what it indicates for immunity.
1. You had a “bad cold.”
Early in the pandemic, people thought that COVID-19 didnt start distributing in the U.S. until late February and March. New research from the University of Texas recommends otherwise. For the study, scientists evaluated throat swabs taken last winter in people who had actually suspected flu cases. These swabs were carried out in Wuhan, China (where the novel coronavirus came from) and Seattle, Washington (where the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the U.S.).
The scientists discovered that for each two cases of the flu, there was one case of COVID-19. As a result, they think COVID-19 most likely shown up in the U.S. at some point around Christmas.
” It took longer to get out to rural areas so, if you were on a farm this winter season and you had the sniffles, you most likely simply had a cold. If you were in New York City or another major city, you might have had a COVID infection and never ever knew it,” Dr. Schaffner says.
It can be tough to distinguish a cold from a moderate type of COVID-19 without a test, depending on which symptoms you experience, he states, however colds do not normally cause shortness of breath, serious headaches, or intestinal signs like COVID-19 can. Heres the full list of the CDCs official symptoms:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or odor
Blockage or runny nose
Queasiness or vomiting
2. You lost your sense of odor or taste at one point.
Loss of smell and taste has actually been a huge hallmark of COVID-19. While this sign does not happen for everybody, Dr. Adalja points out that its now highly linked with the novel coronavirus.
Preliminary information from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) discovered that, in COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of smell, 27% had “some improvement” within about seven days, while a lot of were much better within 10 days.
Worth keeping in mind: Its likewise possible to momentarily lose these senses with other respiratory conditions, like a cold, the influenza, a sinus infection, and even with seasonal allergic reactions. Professionals say that the sign can remain in some people and last for months after recuperating from COVID-19.
3. Youve been dealing with unexplained hair loss.
This hasnt been commonly studied in the context of COVID-19, however lots of people who have actually recovered from the virus are reporting problems with hair loss. Starlet Alyssa Milano, who has been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms for months, shared a video of herself on Instagram in early August consistently brushing out large clumps of hair after she showered.
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Its worth pointing out that some people have actually experienced heart concerns after contracting the virus. One little study of 100 people who recuperated from COVID-19 that was released in JAMA Cardiology did MRIs on previous patients and discovered that 78% had some type of irregular heart finding, independent of any pre-existing conditions. This likewise didnt appear to be linked to severity of illness, the researchers discovered. That might appear in a great deal of various ways, including random heart palpitations, Dr. Schaffner says, but it could likewise be unnoticeable.
Of course, there are plenty of other problems that experts may not even learn about yet. If youve been feeling off and your symptoms are relentless, Dr. Schaffner says its a great concept to get examined out by your doctor, whether you think its related to COVID-19 or not.
What about an antibody test?
While an antibody test might inform you if you have actually had COVID-19, theyre not precisely known for their precision. “Antibody tests are getting better, however there are a lot of antibody tests out there that are still unreliable,” Dr. Schaffner says. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided an emergency situation usage authorization for these tests in the spring, but later eliminated particular tests due to “significant medical performance issues.”
The CDC also stresses that antibody tests “are not 100% accurate and some incorrect favorable outcomes or false negative outcomes might occur.” So its possible to check positive for COVID-19 antibodies, but not in fact have them.
This boils down to numerous elements. First, there are other coronaviruses known to trigger the cold, and those can get chosen up by your antibody test, skewing the outcomes. Whats more, if youre only in the very first days of the infection, antibodies may not be identified at all because your body immune system has not developed a reaction yet. (Learn more about COVID-19 antibodies here.).
Does possibly having COVID-19 in the previous mean you will not get infected once again?
While the above indications could be an indication that you had COVID-19, they can likewise be triggered by other illnesses. “Certainly a sticking around cough and tiredness are popular to be a repercussion of influenza– even if you have those doesnt suggest you had COVID-19,” Dr. Schaffner says.
Eventually, short of having a positive test for COVID-19 when youre ill, its tough to know with overall certainty if youve had the virus. Still, “there are definitely people who got infected and didnt discover,” Dr. Adalja says.
With all that in mind, there is one important thing to keep in mind: Even if you did have COVID-19 in the past, that does not always indicate you wont get infected again. If individuals can be re-infected with the virus– and the very first case of reinfection was simply verified in Hong Kong, the CDC particularly specifies that its uncertain at this time.
Even if you presume you contracted COVID-19 before the pandemic actually struck, its essential to continue practicing avoidance techniques like wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, and practicing social distancing when you can, both to secure yourself and others.
Members of Survivor Corps, the Facebook support system for individuals who have actually had COVID-19, have actually likewise talked about experiencing loss of hair months after recovering from the infection. Its due to a condition referred to as telogen effluvium, and it can be brought on by a multitude of factors, consisting of pregnancy, extreme stress, weight reduction, and illnesses besides COVID-19, Dr. Adalja states.
Its unlikely that you would simply lose more hair than typical without having other COVID-19 signs, like a cough or fever, Dr. Adalja says. Its also important to note that loss of hair can occur from tension in basic, he says– and theres been a great deal of stress due to the pandemic. If youre experiencing hair loss, its possible its due to an unidentified COVID infection, a build-up of tension throughout unpredictable times, or another underlying problem.
4. You feel out of breath in some cases.
Research released in the journal JAMA has actually discovered that people with COVID-19 can have after-effects of the virus, consisting of shortness of breath. Its not totally clear why at this moment or the length of time this can last, but its likely due to lasting swelling in the lungs.
” This is one of the popular lingering impacts in individuals who were identified with COVID-19,” Dr. Schaffner says. They can often recommend medications and treatments, like an inhaler, that can assist, Dr. Schaffner says.
5. You have a cough that will not go away.
A sticking around cough is another sign that individuals who took part in the JAMA study reported. The cough is frequently dry, suggesting that nothing turns up, like phlegm or mucous, Dr. Adalja says. This is fairly typical: Data from the CDC discovered that 43% of individuals who had COVID-19 still had a cough 14 to 21 days after getting a favorable test for the infection.
6. Youre truly, really tired.
This is one of the most significant remaining impacts after a person has COVID-19, according to the JAMA study. That research study discovered that 53% of clients said they were dealing with fatigue around 60 days after they first showed indications of the virus.
” Were seeing some people who had mild health problem who have tiredness for some amount of time,” Dr. Adalja states. But, he states, its not totally clear right now why this happens. It could be the method a persons immune system reacts to the infection, or it could just be the method the infection operates in the body.
Remember that tiredness is an actually typical concern and can be an indication of various health problems (including, of course, not getting enough sleep). Like hair loss, people who experience tiredness due to COVID-19 would have likewise had other signs of the infection in the past, Dr. Adalja says.
7. You have unusual signs that appear to be enduring forever.
Professionals stress that COVID-19 is still a brand-new infection, so doctors and scientists are finding out more about everything the time. Research study on lasting effects of the infection is continuous, and its difficult for physicians to say at this time that having particular signs might indicate you had a COVID-19 infection, while others dont, Dr. Adalja says.
” There are absolutely people who got infected and didnt discover.”
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Specialists say some signs can be tip-offs that you might have had COVID-19 already. Early in the pandemic, individuals believed that COVID-19 didnt start circulating in the U.S. up until late February and March. Its not likely that you would simply lose more hair than typical without having other COVID-19 signs, like a cough or fever, Dr. Adalja says.” This is one of the popular remaining results in individuals who were detected with COVID-19,” Dr. Schaffner states. One little study of 100 individuals who recovered from COVID-19 that was released in JAMA Cardiology did MRIs on former clients and found that 78% had some kind of abnormal heart finding, independent of any pre-existing conditions.
Korin Miller is a self-employed writer concentrating on general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle patterns, with work appearing in Mens Health, Womens Health, Self, Glamour, and more.