Over 2 million people have been infected by the coronavirus. This virus has impacted the world in unprecedented ways. And while the news seems to cover COVID-19 nonstop, there's still a lot of misinformation out there.
But by knowing what the coronavirus symptoms are, and how to avoid catching the illness, you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community at large.
Interested in learning more? Continue reading and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.
What Is the Coronavirus?
While the coronavirus can be spread through surfaces, it's uncertain how long the virus can survive outside of the human body. The main way that it spreads seems to be via droplet infection.
When people cough around you, or if you touch someone who's sick and then touch your face (for example, rubbing your nose or eyes) you can likely become infected. The virus starts the journey at the nose, mouth, or eyes, and then makes its way to the lungs, the spleen, or the intestines.
Our lungs are lined with millions of border cells that are meant to protect your organs. Corona means "crown" in Latin. And these viruses have the name "coronavirus" because they have a spiky outer layer.
The virus cells use these spikes to connect to a specific receptor on its victims' membranes to inject its genetic material. The infected cell doesn't know what's happening and executes its new instructions. These instructions are essentially saying to make more infected cells.
The number of cells that are infected quickly starts to grow. Soon enough, your immune system starts to attack the cells, but it can end up damaging your body even more in the process. This makes your body susceptible to other infectious diseases and can also lead to permanent lung damage.
Common Coronavirus Symptoms
It seems that as each day passes, we learn more and more about the coronavirus and its COVID-19 symptoms.
Symptoms tend to appear between two and fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Let's go over the most common symptoms below.
Fever is a signature sign of coronavirus. You shouldn't fixate on the exact body temperature since not everyone normally has a body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most people aren't considered to really have a fever until their body temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You also shouldn't necessarily rely on temperatures that are taken in the morning. Taking your temperature in the early evening or late afternoon will give you the most accurate reading.
When people have a fever, their temperature tends to go up as the day goes on.
2. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is one of the most serious symptoms of the coronavirus. However, it's usually not an early symptom. This symptom can also occur on its own, you don't need to be experiencing a cough.
If you feel that you can't fill your lungs with air, or your chest feels tight, then you need to act quickly. You want to immediately contact the local emergency department or urgent care, or your personal health care provider if you're experiencing any shortness of breath.
Someone who is showing a bluish face or lips may be lacking oxygen and should seek medical help immediately.
3. Body Aches and Chills
While some people with the coronavirus won't experience any body aches or chills at all, others may undergo flu-like chills, achy muscles and joints, and fatigue. This can all make it difficult to determine if someone is suffering from the flu or the novel coronavirus.
If your symptoms get worse instead of improving over the course of a week, you may likely have the coronavirus.
4. Dry Cough
Another common symptom of COVID-19 is coughing. However, this isn't just any kind of cough. It's doesn't feel like you just need to clear your throat.
This is a dry cough that you will feel deep down in your chest. The catalyst is coming from your sternum or breastbone, and you can tell that your bronchial tubes are either irritated or inflamed.
You also might cough up thick mucus, sometimes referred to as phlegm, from your lungs. Getting a humidifier could also help you breathe better.
5. Digestive Problems
Stomach gastrointestinal or digestive problems are fairly common in coronavirus patients. There are many mild cases where patients experience diarrhea, usually without fever.
These patients though usually get tested later and it takes them longer to clear their bodies of the virus.
6. Pink Eye
A small percentage of coronavirus patients also suffer from pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis. Pink eye is extremely contagious when its caused by a virus.
The disease is basically an inflammation of the transparent layer of eye tissue. However, there are many diseases that cause pink eye, so you should look for other coronavirus symptoms if you happen to get pink eye.
7. Loss of Taste and Smell
In most cases, loss of taste and smell seems to be a common yet unusual early sign of the coronavirus. This can be linked to loss of appetite. In fact loss of smell and taste, also known as anosmia, has sometimes been the only symptom in some patients who tested positive for COVID-19.
Doctors already knew that sudden loss in smell has been linked to lung infections caused by prior coronaviruses, so this doesn't come as a surprise.
Luckily, there is a way to test if your sense of smell has been affected. This is known as the "jellybean test."
Put jellybeans in your mouth and see if you can notice distinct flavors. The odors flow from your mouth to your nasal cavity. And if you can tell what flavor you're currently eating, then your sense of smell should be working properly.
For many people, extreme fatigue may signal that you're in the early stages of having the coronavirus. People with extreme fatigue will sleep for extended periods throughout the day.
Many people who have been cleared of the virus have experienced a lack of energy and exhaustion in the following weeks while they recover.
9. Congestion, Sore Throat, and Headache
Many people who get the coronavirus will also experience symptoms of a sore throat and headache. Nasal congestion is also common.
These are also symptoms of the flu and the common cold. Headache and sore throat aren't necessarily reasons for worry but you should monitor your symptoms and see how they progress.
How to Avoid Getting Sick
Now that we've gone over the most common symptoms of the coronavirus, we'll look at how to avoid getting sick in the first place. And remember, even if you're not experiencing symptoms, you could still be carrying the virus and could potentially infect others.
1. Don't Touch Your Face
The coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for several days. This means that you can get the virus from touching your cell phone, a doorknob, or a gas pump handle.
Because of this, you should make sure that you don't touch any part of your head or face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth. You also want to make sure that you don't bite your fingernails.
In fact, if you wear contact lenses, it's recommended that you switch to glasses so that you touch your face less.
2. Wash Your Hands Often
Experts say that whenever you remember that you're supposed to wash your hands, that's when you should wash your hands. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use warm water and soap.
You want to make sure that you're getting under your fingernails, between the fingers, and up to your wrists. A good way to make sure that you wash your hands for long enough is to sing the "ABCs" to yourself.
You can use antibacterial soap if you want but because the coronavirus is viral and not bacterial, it probably won't make much of a difference.
If you can't wash your hands, make sure that you have hand sanitizer on you. Your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol in its ingredients.
3. Practice Social Distancing
By avoiding people and surfaces that could be infected, you're less likely to catch the virus or infect other people. While social distancing may not be all that fun, it's one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. You should only leave your home to get necessities.
When you're around people, make sure that you're at least six feet away from them.
And hey, social distancing gives you plenty of time to spruce up your home decor.
The Importance of Knowing About Coronavirus Symptoms and How to Protect Yourself
The novel coronavirus is a serious problem that could have far-reaching and dire consequences. But by knowing what the coronavirus symptoms are, and how you can best protect yourself, you'll be able to stay healthy and help ensure that our society makes a smoother recovery.
Looking for more helpful articles about healthy living? Check out our blog today for the most up to date information!