Signs you may have had COVID and not known it

Much effort has gone into identifying the source of COVID-19. Yet some scientists say that may be an impossible mission and that the virus may actually have been around much longer than anyone realised.

Right now, in the midst of the pandemic, or what some say may be nearing the end of this terrible chapter in our history, there is still much we don’t know about the virus.

Ask anyone who knows they had it, and they’ll regale you with symptoms that range from the shocking and downright debilitating through to a slight tickle in the throat and barely a sneeze.

But there are many asymptomatic carriers with no symptoms at all, say health experts.

A Royal Australian College of Surgeons and Practitioners study reveals that around 17 per cent of COVID cases are asymptomatic.

The only way for asymptomatic cases to know if they have COVID is to be tested. But if you’re showing absolutely no symptoms, why would you be tested?

Most asymptomatic people can still spread the virus and they have the same infection timeline as symptomatic people.

“They’ve got the same patterns of infections, an average of five days or so before they become infectious, then a period of anything up to 10 days or so where you are infectious, and then the likelihood of you being infectious after 10 days or so is very low indeed,” said ABC health broadcaster Norman Swan.

“There have been cases – not necessarily asymptomatic people – where people have still had detectable virus after six weeks. Not very many of them, and the question is are they infectious there or is the virus so crippled by that point it’s not infectious?

“It’s still a 14-day cycle on average for most people.”

Read: Fever? Cough? Runny nose? How to know if you need a COVID test

Asymptomatic COVID carriers show no obvious signs, so it’s possible you may have had the virus and recovered from it without knowing. Here’s how to find out.

You thought you just had a ‘bad cold’
If you had a winter cold in late 2019 or early 2020, there’s a chance it may have been COVID. The difference is that COVID would stick around two weeks or longer, while a cold typically lasts only a few days, and COVID could have caused a fever and made it difficult for you to breathe.

Slight shortness of breath
Feeling as if you can’t breathe is common with COVID-19. So, if you thought you had asthma or bronchitis, or if you felt like you had an anxiety or panic attack, there’s a chance you had COVID.

Persistent cough
A dry cough could have been a symptom of COVID-19, especially if it was persistent. If it was COVID, it would have started mildly, but worsened over the next five to seven days.

Red, watery eyes
If you had conjunctivitis, watering eyes or blurred vision, it might have been caused by COVID.

Heart palpitations or chest pain
COVID-19 can cause your heart to beat faster, flutter or pound.

“You may have had tightness in your chest,” says WebMD spokesperson Neha Pathak. “All of these things can happen even after the virus clears your body. Episodes like this can be noticeable for up to two weeks in mild cases or for six weeks in more serious ones.”

Read: Seven symptoms jointly predict COVID, study finds

Extreme fatigue
If you had fatigue that didn’t get better with plenty of sleep, it could have been a sign of the virus. The feeling can come back again days and sometimes weeks later.

Loss of smell or taste
Around eight in 10 COVID cases report foods and drinks tasting abnormal. In some cases, they had no taste at all. A loss of smell is another common symptom. So, if there was a phase when you weren’t able to pick up on specific odours or food tasted differently, you may have had a mild case.

Read: I’ve tested positive to COVID. What should I do now?

How do you know if you’ve had the virus?
The only way to know is to get a blood test to see if you have the antibodies that fight the virus. There’s no guarantee they’ll protect you from getting it again, but some studies show people who have those antibodies are less likely to be reinfected.

Have you experienced any of these symptoms? Are you now reassessing whether you may have had COVID? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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