If You Have These COVID Symptoms, You May Not Recover

Michael Martin
·3 min read

About 40% of people who contract coronavirus have no symptoms and may never know they're infected. Conversely, a growing number of COVID-19 patients have symptoms that just won't go away, even after the virus is no longer detectable in their bodies. It's a condition doctors are calling "long COVID," and they're still stumped as to why certain people are affected and others aren't. But a new study found that certain symptoms—and the sheer number of symptoms you experience—may indicate that you have a case of long COVID.

Conducted by Kings College London, the study involved 4,182 coronavirus patients who recorded their symptoms in an app. About 13% said they were still experiencing symptoms after four weeks, which is considered the starting point of long COVID. At eight weeks, about 5% reported lingering symptoms. By 12 weeks, 98 patients said they hadn't recovered yet.

The researchers found that patients who reported more than five symptoms during the first week of their illness were much more likely to develop long COVID, and that five specific symptoms were more likely to indicate long COVID than others. Read on to find out what they are, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

Fatigue

Tired woman lying in bed can't sleep late at night with insomnia
Tired woman lying in bed can't sleep late at night with insomnia

About 98% of long COVID patients in the study reported fatigue. Other studies have found that fatigue is nearly universal with coronavirus. According to the Long Hauler Symptom Survey, 100% of COVID patients reported lingering fatigue. It's a phenomenon that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has likened to chronic fatigue syndrome, calling it "very disturbing."

2

Headache

Ninety-one percent of patients with long COVID reported having a headache in the Kings College study. Other studies that have found headache is a common COVID symptom—the researchers behind the COVID Symptom Study called it a "dark horse" among coronavirus symptoms. In that study, headache and fatigue were the most commonly reported early signs of COVID.

3

Difficulty Breathing

Pretty brunette coughing on couch at home in the living-room.
Pretty brunette coughing on couch at home in the living-room.

COVID-19 causes lung inflammation and damage that can make it hard to catch your breath. This can linger for weeks or months. According to the Long Hauler Symptom Survey, nearly two-thirds of coronavirus patients reported this symptom.

4

Hoarse Voice

woman with sore throat
woman with sore throat

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hoarseness can be associated with sore throat, coughing, or a change in breathing—all common symptoms of COVID-19. In the Kings College study, experiencing hoarseness early on was one of the key predictors of long COVID.

5

Muscle or Body Aches

Mature man with gray hair having back pain while sitting on a couch at home
Mature man with gray hair having back pain while sitting on a couch at home

Muscles can become inflamed during any illness, and lingering muscle pain has been frequently reported in cases of COVID, which causes inflammation throughout the body. In fact, about two-thirds of patients in the Long Hauler Symptom Survey reported long-term muscle pain or soreness.

6

How to Stay Healthy

A family walking holding hands wearing face masks in the middle of pandemic
A family walking holding hands wearing face masks in the middle of pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.