The COVID-19 virus may have been around longer than we originally thought. So people may have had the virus and recovered from it without knowing. Some telltale signs could indicate that you're one of those people.
It's not uncommon to get a cold during the winter. But if you had one in late 2019 or early 2020, there's a chance your cold might have actually been COVID-19. One way to know the difference is that COVID can stick around 2 weeks or longer, while a cold typically lasts only a few days. And unlike a cold, COVID could have caused a fever and made it hard for you to breathe.
This isn't typically a symptom of a cold or the flu, but feeling like you can't breathe is common with COVID-19. You may have thought you had bronchitis, which COVID-19 can cause. Or it may have felt like anxiety or a panic attack. But with COVID, shortness of breath lasts longer than a panic attack. It also comes with flu-like symptoms.
If you had a dry cough that took a long time to go away, it could have been a symptom of COVID-19. It would have been different from a cough caused by a cold. It would have started mildly, but then got worse during the next 5 to 7 days.
Throughout the pandemic, we've been told to wash our hands often and avoid touching our face. One reason for this is that COVID-19 can affect your eyes. If you had conjunctivitis (pinkeye), watering eyes, or blurred vision, it might have been caused by the virus.
COVID-19 can affect your heart too. It can cause it to beat fast or flutter, or pound. You may have had tightness in your chest. All of these things can happen even after the virus clears your body. Episodes like this can be noticeable for up to 2 weeks in mild cases or for 6 weeks in more serious ones.
Feeling really tired is a common symptom of COVID-19. So if you had that kind of extreme fatigue that didn't get better with plenty of sleep, it could have been a sign of the virus. The feeling can come back again days and sometimes weeks later.
If foods and drinks seemed to taste different than usual (or had no taste), or you weren't able to pick up on odors for a couple of weeks, you could've been infected with the virus. Nearly 80% of people who test positive have this issue, and it's usually a sign of a mild case.
Antibodies are proteins your body makes to help fight off an infection. The only way to know for certain if you've had COVID-19 is to have your blood tested to see if you have the antibodies that fight the virus. If you do have them, scientists aren't sure how well they'll protect you from getting it again. But some studies show that people who have those antibodies are less likely to get COVID again.
This change to the virus (called a mutation) doesn't seem to affect the symptoms it causes or drastically affect the seriousness of the virus. It looks like the only difference is that the mutation is easier to spread from person to person. The signs of this latest form of COVID-19 are the same as the original. So there's no easy way to know which strain you had.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- British Journal of Ophthalmology: “Ocular Manifestations of a Hospitalised Patient with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease.”
- Baton Rouge General: “Could My Winter Cold Have Been Coronavirus?” “Is My Shortness of Breath Anxiety or Coronavirus?”
- American Lung Association: “Coronavirus (CoV).”
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Coronavirus Symptoms: Frequently Asked Questions.”
- American Psychological Association: “How COVID-19 Attacks the Brain.”
- American Heart Association: “Months After Infection, Many COVID-19 Patients Can’t Shake Illness,” “What COVID-19 Is Doing To The Heart, Even After Recovery.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Unusual Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms: What Are They?”
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Employees and Patients.”
- CDC: “Using Antibody Tests for COVID-19,” “New COVID-19 Variants.”
- National Cancer Institute: “SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies Can Protect From Reinfection, NCI Study Suggests.”