COVID-19 is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by a new, or novel, virus. COVID-19 is spreading quickly throughout the world and within the United States.
COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some people have died from the illness. Symptoms may include:
- Chills; repeated shaking with chills
Cough Shortness of breathor difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
Some people may have no symptoms at all or have some, but not all of the symptoms.
Symptoms may develop within 2 to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus. Most often, symptoms appear around 5 days after exposure. However, you can spread the virus even when you do not have symptoms.
More severe symptoms that require seeking medical help right away include:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain or pressure that persists
- Inability to wake up
- Blue lips or face
Older people and people with certain existing health conditions have a higher risk of developing severe illness:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Obesity (BMI of 30 or above)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Organ transplantation
- Sickle cell disease
Coronavirus novel 2019 - symptoms; 2019 Novel coronavirus - symptoms; SARS-Co-V2 - symptoms
Some symptoms of
The only way to know if you have COVID-19 is to be
Most people with the illness have mild to moderate symptoms and recover fully. Whether you get tested or not, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should avoid contact with other people so you don't spread the illness.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) consider COVID-19 a serious public health threat. For the most up-to-date news and information about COVID-19, you can visit the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus (COVID-19) --
World Health Organization website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic --
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).
COVID-19 spreads to people within close contact (about 6 feet or 1.8 meters). When someone with the illness coughs or sneezes, infectious droplets spray into the air. You can catch the illness if you breathe in or touch these particles.
If you have COVID-19 or think you have it, you must isolate yourself at home and avoid contact with other people, both inside and outside your home, to
- As much as possible, stay in one room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Do not leave your home except to get medical care if needed.
- Keep track of your symptoms. You may receive instructions on how to check and report your symptoms.
- Use a face mask when you are with people in the same room and when you see your provider. If you can't wear a mask, people in your home should wear a mask if they need to be in the same room with you.
- Avoid contact with pets or other animals. (SARS-CoV-2 can spread from people to animals, but it is not known how often this happens). Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Throw away the tissue after use.
Wash your hands oftenwith soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do this before eating or preparing food, after using the toilet, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Do not share personal items such as cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash anything you have used in soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available.
- Clean all "high-touch" areas in the home, such as doorknobs, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, toilets, phones, tablets, and counters and other surfaces. Use a household cleaning spray and follow instructions for use.
- You should remain at home and avoid contact with people until your provider tells you it is safe to
end home isolation.
To help treat the symptoms of COVID-19, the following tips may help.
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help reduce fever. Sometimes, providers advise you to use both types of medicine. Take the recommended amount to reduce fever. DO NOT use ibuprofen in children 6 months or younger.
- Aspirin works well to treat fever in adults. DO NOT give aspirin to a child (under age 18 years) unless your child's provider tells you to.
- A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool a fever. Keep taking medicine -- otherwise your temperature might go back up.
- If you have a dry, tickling cough, try cough drops or hard candy.
- Use a vaporizer or take a steamy shower to increase moisture in the air and help soothe a dry throat and cough.
- Do not smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
You should contact your provider right away:
- If you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19
- If you have COVID-19 and your symptoms are getting worse
Call 911 or the local emergency number if you have:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Confusion or inability to wake up
- Blue lips or face
- Any other symptoms that are severe or that concern you
Before you go to a doctor's office or hospital emergency department (ED), call ahead and tell them that you have or think you may have COVID-19. Tell them about any underlying conditions you might have, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. Wear a cloth face mask when you visit the office or ED, unless it makes it hard to breathe. This will help protect other people you come in contact with.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will ask about your symptoms, any recent travel, and any possible exposure to COVID-19. Your provider may take swab samples from the back of your nose and throat. If needed, your provider may also take other samples, such as blood or sputum.
If your symptoms do not indicate a medical emergency, your provider may decide to monitor your symptoms while you recover at home. You will have to remain away from others within your home and not leave the house until your provider says you can stop home isolation. For more serious symptoms, you may need to go to the hospital for care.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Interim clinical guidance for management of patients with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Interim guidance for implementing home care of people not requiring hospitalization for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Overview of testing for SARS-CoV-2.
Review Date: 11/04/2020
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright ©2019 A.D.A.M., Inc., as modified by University of California San Francisco. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Health. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.