Have you had a cough or a runny nose this winter? How can you tell if it is just a common cold or COVID-19?
It isn’t easy to tell the difference, which is why the current advice is for anyone displaying cold or flu-like symptoms to undergo a test.
That said, a recent review of the scientific literature of COVID-19 cases around the world has confirmed the most prevalent symptoms associated with the disease.
Unsurprisingly, a persistent cough and a fever were the two most common COVID symptoms.
Other major symptoms include fatigue, losing the ability to smell and difficulty breathing.
The study ratifies the list of symptoms listed by the World Health Organisation at the start of the pandemic.
Researchers from five universities combined data from 148 separate studies to identify the common symptoms experienced by more than 24,000 patients from nine countries, including the UK, China and the US.
The study is one of the biggest reviews yet conducted into COVID-19 symptoms.
The researchers also acknowledge that there is likely to be a large proportion of people who had the virus but did not display symptoms.
Of the 24,410 cases, the study found:
– 78 per cent had a fever, although this tended to vary across countries, with 72 per cent of fever reported by patients in Singapore and 32 per cent in South Korea.
– 57 per cent reported a cough. Again, this varied across countries, with 76 per cent of patients reporting a cough in the Netherlands compared to 18 per cent in South Korea.
– 31 per cent said they had suffered fatigue.
– 25 per cent lost the ability to smell.
– 23 per cent reported difficulty breathing.
The researchers believe the variation in the prevalence of symptoms between countries is due, in part, to the way data was collected.
Of those patients who needed hospital treatment, 17 per cent needed non-invasive help with their breathing; 19 per cent had to be looked after in an intensive care unit, 9 per cent required invasive ventilation and 2 per cent needed extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, an artificial lung.
Dr Ryckie Wade from the University of Leeds said the study’s confirmation of symptoms was very important in terms of shutting down the spread of the virus.
“This analysis confirms that a cough and fever were the most common symptoms in people who tested positive with COVID-19,” Dr Wade said. “This is important because it ensures that people who are symptomatic can be quarantined, so they are not infecting others.
“The study gives confidence to the fact that we have been right in identifying the main symptoms and it can help determine who should get tested.”
Have you had a coronavirus test? Do you know people with cold and flu symptoms who refuse to get tested?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.