How to tell if you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated on

This advice is based on our medical staff and CDC guidelines about COVID-19. We update this site when new information is available. New information may also be available from the CDC.

When to call 911

Is this an emergency?

If you’re suffering from a life threatening condition, stop and call 911.

Know the symptoms and what to do about COVID-19

Updated on

Common symptoms of COVID-19

  • fever
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough

Other signs of COVID-19 are

  • difficulty breath
  • aches and pains
  • headache
  • chills, and shaking from chills
  • sore throat
  • loss of sense of smell and taste
  • and very few people will report diarrhea, nausea, or a runny nose.

Whatever happens, most people who get COVID-19 will recover without needing medical care. 

When you have COVID-19 symptoms

If you have signs of COVID-19 and

  • are 65 or older; or
  • have existing health conditions; or
  • are experiencing more serious symptoms

contact your provider.

People who are 65 or older, or have existing health conditions are at a higher risk for serious health conditions if they get COVID-19.

Existing health conditions are heart, lung, kidney, and any other conditions which may weaken your immune system.

If you have strong signs of COVID-19

If you don’t fit into the categories above and have

  • strong signs of a fever;
  • cough; or
  • difficulty breathing

contact your provider.

If you have mild symptoms (like a fever and cough without difficulty breathing), stay home and self-isolate to protect others.

COVID-19 testing

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

Your provider will decide if you need to be tested.

If you have a fever, cough, and/or difficulty breath, and have been near a person you know has COVID-19, stay home and contact your provider. 

Who can get tested for COVID-19

Availability and criteria for testing for COVID-19 can vary by location and by the organization providing the test. In general, the CDC recommends:  

  • Testing individuals with signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Testing asymptomatic individuals with recent known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 to control transmission
  • Testing asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 for early identification in special settings such as
    • Long-term care facilities
    • Correctional and detention facilities
    • Homeless shelters
    • Other congregate work or living settings including mass care, temporary shelters, assisted living facilities, and group homes for individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities
    • High-density critical infrastructure workplaces where continuity of operations is a high priority
  • Testing to determine resolution of infection (i.e., returning to work, or the discontinuation of home isolation)
  • Public health surveillance for COVID-19

Additionally, for those persons undergoing elective procedures (i.e. dental procedures) testing may be useful to determine if further deferring of procedures is needed if evidence of COVID-19 infection exists.

What’s the latest on antibody and immunity testing

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Labs are doing antibody or “immunity” testing.

We don’t currently have a recommendation for antibody testing, because:

  • Right now, it isn’t clear how long COVID-19 antibodies last after infection.
  • It also isn’t clear if these antibodies means you can’t be infected with COVID-19 again. 
  • The test can also give a false-positive result, indicating you have COVID-19 antibodies when you do not.

Whether you’re tested or not, you can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by physical distancing and wearing a mask.

Is at-home testing reliable

Yes

Currently, at-home testing is available through a number of companies, however there are questions as to the reliability and validity of the tests offered.

If you feel you are at risk or need additional testing, contact your healthcare provider for further information on testing options.

COVID-19 and other medical conditions

Know how COVID-19 is different from other viruses and allergies, how it affects pregnant people, and what it means if you lose your sense of smell and taste.

Strokes and COVID-19

Call 911 as soon as you experience these symptoms

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness or numbness
  • Trouble speaking or slurred speech

Getting treatment right away for a stroke increases a person’s chance of survival and recovery.

Recent reports in the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Stroke Association say that getting help at once for anyone of any age with signs of stroke will increase their chances of survival and recovery.

Don’t delay getting care because of concerns about going to the hospital during the pandemic.

The differences between COVID-19, a cold, the flu, and allergies

Updated on

SignsCOVID-19ColdFluAllergies
FeverCommonRareCommonSometimes
Dry coughCommonMildCommonSometimes
Difficulty breathingCommonNoNoCommon
HeadachesSometimesRareCommonSometimes
Chills and shaking from chillsSometimesNoSometimesNo
Aches and painsSometimesCommonCommonNo
Sore throatSometimesCommonCommonNo
FatigueSometimesSometimesCommonSometimes
DiarrheaRareNoSometimesNo
Runny noseRareCommonSometimesCommon
SneezingNoCommonNoCommon
Sense of smell changed SometimesSometimesSometimesSometimes
Sense of taste changedSometimesSometimesSometimesSometimes
Sources: CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), WHO, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Can I have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes.

You can have the flu and other viral infections at the same time as COVID-19.

If you have flu symptoms

If you are experiencing severe flu symptoms, contact your provider within the first 48 hours.

Your provider will let you know what medication you can take.

The flu is still a very serious virus for people who are in a category for high risk of severe health conditions.

Contact your provider if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms to find out if you can be prescribed medication.

Follow self-isolation steps while getting plenty of rest and fluids.

The symptoms of flu are

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • headaches
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • fatigue

You may also experience diarrhea, a runny nose, and a changed sense of smell or taste.

Pregnancy and COVID-19

To best answer your questions about pregnancy and COVID-19, stay connected with your OB/GYN (obstetrician / gynecologist) or primary care provider (PCP).

Scientists are learning more about how COVID-19 affects pregnant women.

Here’s what we know about COVID-19 and pregnancy right now.

  • Pregnant women are not more likely to get infected with COVID-19.
  • Pregnant women who get respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, are at a higher risk for serious health conditions.
  • Health experts recommend following good hand hygiene and social distancing. Some doctors suggest 12 weeks of self-isolation as an added precaution, if you are able. Learn how to protect yourself.
  • A small study of pregnant women in China with confirmed COVID-19 found no evidence of the virus in their breast milk, cord blood, or amniotic fluid.

What does it mean if I’ve lost my sense of smell and taste?

Losing your sense of smell and taste has recently been found to be an early symptom of COVID-19.

Until now, health authorities like the World Health Organization (WHO) have said a fever, dry cough, and extreme tiredness are the symptoms to watch out for.

Still, loss of smell might help doctors identify people who do not have other signs of COVID-19, but who might be infected with COVID-19—and who might be unknowingly infecting others.

Over time, your sense of smell will come back, and for most will come back within four weeks.

Can you not know if you have COVID-19, or get it twice

Can I have COVID-19 and not know it?

Yes.

You can have COVID-19 and not know it. There is increasing evidence that the virus can be spread by people before symptoms appear or without any symptoms.

People can spread COVID-19 without knowing it because symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear.

Some virus spreaders may never feel sick throughout their entire illness.

Social distancing and face coverings are critical to stop the spread while protecting yourself and those around you.

Can I get COVID-19 twice?

It’s not likely you can get COVID-19 twice.

It is thought that your body will develop an immunity to COVID-19, and if you did have the virus, the likelihood of getting sick from it again is low.

Scientists are quickly learning about COVID-19 and there is much to learn.