Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci
While many people have experienced a "mild" case of Omicron or the new spin-off, BA.2, that doesn't mean you're not at risk for Long COVID, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Long COVID can happen no matter what virus variant occurs," Dr. Fauci told Spectrum News. "There's no evidence that there's any difference between Delta or Beta or now Omicron." "We should always be aware that when people get symptomatic infection … anywhere from 10 to up to 30 plus percent of people will go on to have persistence of symptoms," he added, noting that even mild cases are included in that possibility. "Long-term symptoms usually include shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia and brain fog." While there's no sure way to know if you've had COVID, experts tell Eat This, Not That! Health signs that may indicate you've had the virus. As always please consult with your physician and get tested. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Vivek Cherian, a Chicago based internal medicine physician shares, "Fatigue is the most common symptom seen among individuals with long COVID. We know there are certain risk factors that predispose individuals to having a more serious courses of COVID-19 if they are infected but there still is no clear correlation if those same risk factors translate into being more likely to developing post-COVID fatigue(even individuals who are young and have had relatively mild courses have developed long COVID symptoms)."
Long Term Effects on the Brain
According to Dr. Cherian, "Though we now know that COVID-19 can have long-term effects on the brain, we still don't know the exact mechanism, but at this time it's critical that we are aware that certain COVID-19 symptoms can persist long after a perceived recovery. There have been some studies that demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can lead to loss of gray matter in the brain according to a recent article published in Nature, but we still need more time for a definitive cause."
What to Know About "Long-Haulers"
Dr. Cherian emphasizes, "It is important to realize that the virus that causes COVID-19 was identified only in December 2019 which is still quite recent. It is going to take time to learn more details as to how the virus affects people in different ways and who are more predisposed to developing long COVID symptoms including post-COVID fatigue. We've been familiar for quite a while about "COVID long-haulers" who after a COVID infection continue to have persistent symptoms such as brain fog, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath to name a few. Interestingly, in a recent article published in JAMA, researchers found that this did not only occur in patients who'd been severely ill and hospitalized, but also in those who'd managed a mild case at home, and the symptoms could be prevalent even seven months after a COVID diagnosis. That being said, the study found that hospitalized patients were much more likely than non-hospitalized patients to struggle with attention, executive functioning, category fluency, memory encoding and memory recall. The most common cognitive deficits the study identified were memory encoding (24% of participants) and memory recall 23% of the participants."
Other Signs That Indicate You Could Have Had COVID
Dr. William Lang, Medical Director, WorldClinic explains, "There are no signs that you've had COVID any more than signs that you have had any viral infection, but signs that you have COVID include (starting with those that are more common with omicron):
- Sore Throat: Omicron appears to preferentially infect/affect the mucous membranes ("respiratory epithelium") lining your nose and throat. A profound sore throat is the most common symptom we are seeing.
- Runny nose and congestion: same reason as above.
- Body aches and pains: This is likely a result of your body's response to COVID as your immune system is revved up.
- Easily fatigued: Many people with omicron are very easily worn out and rest/sleep does not help much. This is more commonly reported with omicron
Some symptoms that are less common with omicron (but can still happen):
- Coughs: Nowhere near as common/severe as with earlier variants as the key tissues generating coughs are below the commonly affected areas.
- Shortness of breath: The lungs are not typically as affected by omicron, so less shortness of breath (unless caused by sometimes profound nasal congestion, but this is not as severe a symptom as lung-based SoB)
- Fever: Was prominent with earlier variants. Still occurs, but not as much
- Loss of taste and smell: The virus directly attacks the taste bud areas in the back of the mouth.
Most importantly, none of these signs are a definite indication that one has COVID. These symptoms can just as easily be caused by the flu or even other coronaviruses!"
What to Know About COVID Right Now
Dr. Emil Tsai, M.D.– Ph.D., M.A.S., chief scientist and CEO of SyneuRx emphasizes, "We all must remain vigilant. We don't live in isolation and we must protect ourselves and those around us. So, continue to follow necessary precautions, receive regular testing, isolate if you become infected, or contact someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and continue to get vaccinated. The vaccine may not be as effective against the new mutations and it is not acure, but it will improve your resistance to the viral infection. And, of course, we need more antiviral drugs that can improve the symptoms of all the upcoming variants of the unknown in the future."
Why COVID is Likely to Surge Again
Dr. Thomas Gut, D.O., Associate Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital reveals, "As the COVID variants continue over time, our body's ability to fight off the virus decreases due to decline of antibody levels. Also, as more mutations occur to the COVID virus, our own antibodies formed during previous infections become less effective to the new structural changes of the virus."
What's Going to Happen Next with COVID?
Dr. Gut explains, "It's reasonable to expect that the virus will continue to surge in areas that have not had a surge recently. As more people build antibody resistance from vaccination or prior infection, the peaks of surges would likely become milder over time. It's very likely that this virus will continue and persist indefinitely. If mutations to the virus continue to make the virus milder in terms of risk of death, it would not be likely that we will see large scale lockdowns. With more recent antibody infusion and medication treatment advancements, it's becoming less likely to see hospitalizations increase."
How to Help Avoid COVID
Dr. Ramzi Yacoub (PharmD), SingleCare Chief Pharmacy Officer shares,
- "The key to preventing the coronavirus is limiting exposure to it. People should avoid being near those who are sick, wash their hands frequently and disinfect high contact, common use objects like door knobs and work surfaces."
- Most household disinfectants like Lysol and Clorox wipes claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, but the effectiveness against new coronavirus strains is still to be determined. Either way, these products are great at disinfecting objects and surfaces and are useful to limit exposure.
- Hand soaps and sanitizers vary in their ability to kill bacteria and viruses, but cleaning hands can help keep the virus at bay. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and make sure to wash your hands often throughout the day, for at least 20 seconds, to help prevent exposure."
Dr. Kunal Gurav, M.D., FACC, MBA, ChenMed Medical Director of Cardiology and Regional Chief Clinical Officer for Dedicated Senior Medical Centers in Missouri and Tennessee stresses the importance of still wearing masks. "First, anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask to protect everyone they might encounter during self-quarantine, including family members. Second, anyone visiting a crowded place, where social distancing is not possible, should wear a mask (e.g., high-traffic public buildings, public transportation, medical offices, and hospitals, etc.)."
Places You're Most Likely to Get COVID
- "Any crowded area where people aren't wearing masks, including concerts, grocery stores, etc. If cases are on the rise and mask mandates aren't instated in crowded areas, this could increase exposure and potential risk of contracting the virus. If found in this situation, I recommend taking proper precaution including getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a mask, attempting to maintain a distance from others and testing before and/or after with rapid tests.
- Bars and restaurants in areas with heightened cases. While some bars and restaurants do still have mask mandates, as soon as you're seated, you're able to remove your mask, allowing for potential spread. If going out to a bar or restaurant, I recommend dining outside as temperatures increase, avoiding times when it's more likely to be crowded, ensuring you're vaccinated and boosted and testing before and/or after with tests like the BinaxNOW Self Test for results within 15 minutes."
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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