We Had COVID and This Was the First Symptom
COVID-19 symptoms can run the gamut from mild to debilitating—people can have completely opposing experiences with the virus, depending on a number of factors such as age and underlying health conditions. "If a symptom is affecting your ability to work or your ability to accomplish your normal day-to-day activities, tell your healthcare provider," says pulmonary and critical care physician Joseph Khabbaza, MD. "There may not always be some intervention that can be done, but COVID changes every day. We learn more every day and there are so many moving parts. If you're having difficulty, you always want to make sure your healthcare provider is aware of everything." Here are the first symptoms people noticed after getting COVID-19. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
"I had a text from my hospital's infectious disease specialist. She knew that I had been away on a cruise and wanted me to stay low and watch for any coronavirus symptoms," says Jon L. Stanford, MD, a surgeon from Carrollton, GA. "I didn't have to wait long. The next morning, I woke with one of those irritating coughs that tickle the back of your throat. Then a mild headache. Then muscle and joint pain. All of these were allergy symptoms I have every year when the spring yellow pine pollen coats Georgia like snow. Maybe it's just my seasonal allergies, I told myself, but I began to worry. I canceled my week's scheduled cases and office visits. I isolated from my family and moved into our walkout basement. I got in contact with our hospital's ID specialist who told me to stay at home but not to be too worried because my temperature was normal. The fever started the next day. Even though they were only low grade (the spiking 102 °F fevers would come later), I still felt flushed and irritated."
"When I first began experiencing tremendous fatigue and shortness of breath, in mid-March, my first fear wasn't that I had come down with COVID-19: It was that I was having a relapse of CLL [chronic lymphocytic leukemia], the blood cancer I'd been successfully treated for in 2006," says Paul Levine, 86, from New York City. "But when I called my oncologist, he asked me a strange question: How did my food taste? When I told him everything tastes terrible, he instructed me to go to the hospital. My son drove me to Mount Sinai West in New York City, where I tested positive for COVID-19."
"When I first came down with symptoms of COVID-19, my attitude was I could push through it on my own," says Ronald Hill, 71, from Fresno, CA. "Was I wrong! I came down with the virus in mid-March, after attending a family funeral in Los Angeles where a couple of cousins had been infected with COVID but weren't yet showing symptoms. A few days later, I began running a high fever. I called my doctor, who sent me for X-rays and lab tests. It turns out I had pneumonia — although I wasn't yet having trouble breathing — and was positive for COVID-19."
"I first noticed a headache that seemed to originate behind my eyes and through my temples," says Laura, 26, a nurse from Philadelphia, PA. "I had a dry cough and difficulty breathing that I only noticed when I exerted myself, like when I was running up the stairs, when I was playing with my dog, or when I tried to work out from home. I felt achy and had the chills. This only really happened in the morning the first day, and by the late afternoon I felt fine. When I woke up with the symptoms the next day, I decided to get tested."
"When I woke up that Friday, I had some allergy symptoms," says Dr. Allison Gilbert, from Oneida, TN. "Mid-morning I felt short of breath. I do have mild asthma, so I took a breathing treatment. As I was walking in, my legs went completely weak, like they couldn't hold me up. Instantly, I couldn't breathe. I called my doctor (at Grace Primary Care), and they told me to come in immediately."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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