The COVID-19 virus affects each individual differently. Mild to moderate illness develops in most infected people, but they recover without being hospitalized. Affected people typically show symptoms between 2 and 14 days after contracting the disease. Affected people may show mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have the virus:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of smell or taste
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
Older adults and people with severe underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung, or heart disease seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
The progress of the symptoms depends on the severity of your condition. If you have mild disease, fever is likely to settle within a few days and you are likely to feel significantly better after a week. Loss of sense of smell can also persist. In many individuals, this has continued for several months. In people with severe infection, shortness of breath is likely to become more marked 7-10 days after they develop the symptoms. Due to inflammation in your lungs caused by the infection, you are unable to transfer oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream. Symptoms can develop rapidly and worsen in minutes.
If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care right away:
- New confusion
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Trouble breathing
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the disease and how the virus spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by wearing a properly fitted mask, staying at least 1 meter apart from others, and washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.
The virus can spread from the nose or mouth in small liquid particles of the infected person when they sneeze, cough, speak, or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols. It is important to practice respiratory etiquette when you feel unwell, such as coughing into your flexed elbow while staying at home.