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

FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

As the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads more freely in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, said, "I would not be surprised at all, if we do see somewhat of an uptick" in the Washington Post on Tuesday. Fauci noted that the subvariant does not seem to cause more severe disease. But BA.2, just like the COVID iterations before it, comes with the risk of "long COVID," which Fauci is very concerned about. "Anywhere from 5 to 30 percent of people have a persistence measured in weeks to months of a constellation of signs and symptoms that still, in many respects, remain puzzling," he said. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Fatigue

Woman suffering from stomach cramps on the sofa at home.
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Up to 30% of people who've had COVID experience symptoms a full year after diagnosis, a study released this month. Among the most common is fatigue. Fauci has previously likened long COVID to chronic fatigue syndrome. "You can see people who've recovered who really do not get back to normal, that they have things that are highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome."

2

Brain Fog

Woman hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness with motion
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In addition to fatigue, Fauci said that long COVID can cause "brain fog" and "difficulty in concentrating." Experts aren't sure why. But several studies have found that COVID can have concerning effects on the brain—one recent study found that COVID infection can produce detrimental changes to the brain equivalent to ten years of aging. (Whether that's temporary is unclear.) 

3

Body Aches

body inflammation
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Fauci has said that recurrent body aches, or myalgias, are a hallmark symptom of long COVID. They can appear anywhere in the body and may be caused by inflammation produced by the virus. They're very common after COVID: One study of COVID "long haulers" found that 67 percent reported body aches. 

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said Here's What's Next

4

What Causes Long COVID?

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.
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"We don't know whether it's cause‑effect or just related in a way that might not really be relevant, but we have to pay attention to it," Fauci told the Post on Tuesday. "You know, it's the idea of a high degree of a viral load, the idea of underlying diabetes, the idea of reactivation of underlying infections like EBV infections and things like that. Again, nothing solid to indicate that those are pathogenic events that are relevant, but these are things we're keeping an eye out on."

RELATED: Here's Who's Getting Omicron Now

5

How to Reduce Your Risk of Long COVID

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.
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"One of the positive things are that the data are pretty clear that if you are vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection, you have less of a risk of getting long COVID than if you are infected not having been vaccinated, which is again—yet again—another argument for why it's so important for us to get vaccinated and when vaccinated to get boosted," said Fauci.

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6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael