What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

In a Nutshell:

  • Most cases of COVID-19 present with mild symptoms that can be managed at home
  • Commonest symptoms are fever, sore throat, loss of taste and smell and body aches
  • Severe cases may present with respiratory difficulty, constant feeling of pressure in chest and bluish discoloration of face and lips

COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID-19 is a notorious viral illness that has affected millions globally. The range and severity of symptoms vary significantly from person to person. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 experiences no symptoms at all. While about 1 in 6 affected individuals may develop serious complications like respiratory difficulty. The risk of severe complications increases if you have certain risk factors like:

  • Advanced age (over 60 years)
  • Weak immune system due to infections (HIV, Hepatitis B), diseases (cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, liver, or kidney failure) or drugs (Immunosuppressive therapy that is advised after organ transplant)

What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 affects different people differently. The symptoms vary from mild, self-resolving illness to serious symptoms and life-threatening complications such as respiratory failure or even death. The symptoms of COVID-19 generally appear within 2-14 days of exposure to virus. Most common symptoms are:

  • Fever is the most common symptoms that affects about 99% of the affected patients. High grade fever may be accompanied with chills. Fortunately, most cases of fever can be managed with Acetaminophen or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Fatigue is another common symptom that affects about 70% COVID-19 patients
  • Loss of appetite is reported by 40% patients
  • Muscle or body aches are reported by 35% patients
  • Cough another common symptom, is reported in 45% patients. Most patients report dry cough but about 1/3rd patients report productive or wet cough with production of sputum

Other common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea

A small percentage of individuals has also reported some uncommon symptoms like:

  • Pinkeye
  • Blood clots
  • Coughing up blood
  • Liver problems or damage
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage
  • Swollen eyes
  • Fainting
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Heart problems

Nuances/ Safety:

In a small percentage of people, especially those who have above listed risk factors, serious complication may occur which warrants urgent medical attention. If you are your loved ones are experiencing following symptoms, immediately alert your doctor before visiting the ER or doctor’s office. These symptoms are:

  • Labored breathing
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Bluish discoloration of face and lips
  • Stroke or paralysis
  • Confusion or altered level of consciousness

Strength of Evidence: A
The symptoms listed in this article are based of data reported in the large-scale studies, published in peer-reviewed journals.

Our Ruling:

COVID-19 infection can present with a wide variety of symptoms. Fever, sore throat, body aches and muscle pain are some of the common symptoms. Individuals with certain risk factors presents with more serious symptoms and higher risk of complications. Healthcare providers recommend social distancing to limit the spread of infection and self-isolation for those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.



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How we grade evidence?

Learn more about it here.