Signs You've Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

Alek Korab
·4-min read

With the dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, many experts (and fellow humans) have worried about the number of deaths, which is also rising at an alarming pace. Left uncounted, however, is the morbidity rate. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, just warned of COVID-19 side effects that can last long, long after you've shed the virus, maiming thousands. He called it post-COVID syndrome. "We have people get infected. They wind up having variable degrees of manifestations from mild to moderate, even requiring hospitalization, when they then clear the virus from them—so that they're no longer infected for themselves or infective for other people," he said on C-SPAN. "They have the lingering of symptoms. And we don't know what percentage of people have that—could be about 20, 25%." Fauci has previously said it could be up to 30% of all patients. "The symptoms that they have [last] for maybe weeks, if not months." Read on for the list of symptoms of this Post-COVID Syndrome, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

1

Very Severe Fatigue

tired female worker sitting at a desk
tired female worker sitting at a desk

For those who suffer from side effects of coronavirus months after getting it—some call them "long haulers"—severe fatigue is the most common symptom. This is not just a case of the sleepies. This can be a full-blown exhaustion, as if the body is pulling the person down and powering off. "Weeks pass, and while the worst symptoms are gone, you're not your old self — not even close," Anthony Komaroff, MD, writes in Harvard Health. "You can't meet your responsibilities at home or at work: no energy. Even routine physical exertion, like vacuuming, leaves you feeling exhausted…Your doctor congratulates you: the virus can no longer be detected in your body. That means you should be feeling fine. But you're not feeling fine."

2

Shortness of Breath

adult male in face mask receiving treatment at hospital suffering respiratory disease lying on bed
adult male in face mask receiving treatment at hospital suffering respiratory disease lying on bed

Dr. Dixie Harris, a pulmonologist at the Intermountain Healthcare hospital system in Utah, tells Marketwatch she sees long-haulers who cannot breathe: "Who I get are patients who two to three months later are still having shortness of breath, still having aches and pains, and maybe chest symptoms. Many of them are still on oxygen."

3

Sleep Disturbances

Depressed woman awake in the night, she is touching her forehead and suffering from insomnia
Depressed woman awake in the night, she is touching her forehead and suffering from insomnia

Anxiety, vivid dreams, and breathing issues can keep up long-haulers. "Even to this day, I still have some anxiety about sleeping," Patrick Hobart, a 41-year-old web developer who lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, told TODAY. "While I'm lying down, I get this involuntary gasp for air… all of a sudden, it's like my body shoves air down my throat." Also, "You ache all over," says Dr. Komaroff.

RELATED: COVID Symptoms Usually Appear in This Order, Study Finds

4

Temperature Control Difficulties

"There is a big, wide range of symptoms that we're seeing also, that range from swelling and numbness in the extremities, tingling down the arms and legs, GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms, lots of anxiety, issues with regulating temperature, dizziness, headaches, nausea," David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, tells Cronkite News. "They're very episodic. You can be … having a good day and then suddenly you'll feel a sort of an attack on your physiology. And they are very severe in terms of the way that they're limiting individuals in their daily life."

5

A Difficulty in Concentrating or Focusing

Doctor woman, medical professional doubt expression, confuse and wonder concept, uncertain future
Doctor woman, medical professional doubt expression, confuse and wonder concept, uncertain future

Says Dr. Komaroff, it's possible "you're having trouble concentrating on anything, even watching TV; you're unusually forgetful; you stumble over simple calculations. Your brain feels like it's in a fog." This issue is, in fact, called "brain fog." Those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also called myalgic encephalomyelitis, which Post-COVID Syndrome can resemble, have lived with this for many, many years. In fact, "most people who developed ME/CFS before COVID-19 remain ill for many decades," writes Dr. Komaroff. "Only time will tell if this proves true for the post-COVID cases of ME/CFS."

6

What to Do If You Feel These Symptoms

woman with depressed facial expression sitting on grey textile couch holding her phone
woman with depressed facial expression sitting on grey textile couch holding her phone

If you experienced any of the symptoms you just read about, that does not mean you've 100% had COVID, or that you're immune to COVID, or that you don't still have COVID. Call a medical professional if you feel any of them—and know that you're not alone. These symptoms are "something that we're seeing a lot more of now," said Dr. Fauci. "We need to find out what the cause of it is because the virus is gone. So it may be some effect associated with the virus. These are unanswered questions that we will soon answer." Until doctors learn more, stay safe out there, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.