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Coronavirus Chaos

Coronavirus Symptoms: What Does COVID-19 Feel Like?

Coronavirus Cells Picture
Coronavirus Cells Picture.

It has been nearly a year since the coronavirus pandemic started, but the scientific community still has much to learn about this particular virus, including what exactly the long-term effects are in those who have been infected.

Major progress, however, has been made to better understand the incubation period, the early symptoms of the disease, and how it transmits from person to person.

Mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing are all great ways to protect oneself, but it is also important to be able to pinpoint certain warning signs that may offer clues to whether one has been infected and is potentially contagious to others.

Should you fall victim to this contagion, know that you won’t always exhibit the well-known coronavirus symptoms. The latest studies have estimated that 20 percent to 30 percent of those who contract the virus are asymptomatic.

For the rest, however, the most common symptoms include fever, body aches, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of taste or smell. Make sure to be on the lookout for more serious symptoms like shortness of breath or neurological issues, as they may require immediate hospitalization.

Novel Coronavirus SARS

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

To give you a better feel for what it is like to be infected, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common coronavirus symptoms.


A fever is an increase in your body temperature. Having this condition is a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. Doctors consider a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to be a fever. One should seek medical attention immediately if the temperature rises to 103 degrees, and is one of the key coronavirus symptoms to watch out for.

Dry Cough

A dry cough does not produce any phlegm or mucus. They may cause a tickling sensation and are often due to irritation in the throat. Doctors often refer to dry coughs as non-productive coughs, as they don’t clear the airways of irritants. Many studies list this as one of the key coronavirus symptoms.


Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness and an overall lack of energy. It is a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and reduces your energy, motivation, and concentration. Fatigue at this level can also impact your psychological well-being.

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain, ranging from mild to excruciating, can involve a small area or your entire body. In some cases, this condition has been shown to linger for months. The neck, back, legs, and hands are known to be affected.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML.


Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that is often exhibited before vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of an underlying condition.


Chills are feelings of coldness that are often accompanied by shivering. They may occur with or without a fever. Fever and chills are known to be common symptoms of influenza infection.


There are more than 150 types of headaches, but the most common kinds cause mild to moderate pain and come and go over time. The more severe cluster headaches can bring about intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye.

Sore Throat

An individual with a sore throat can expect to have pain, scratchiness, or irritation that often worsens when they swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection.


Diarrhea is characterized by abnormally loose or watery stools. Most cases of the condition are due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Digestive system disorders can also cause chronic diarrhea.

Loss of Taste or Smell

It is not uncommon for upper respiratory infections, which can occur with COVID-19, to affect one’s sense of smell and taste. Temporary loss of smell has been seen in more than 60 percent of colds and sinus infections, according to one study.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, is often described as an intense tightening in the chest, difficulty breathing, or a feeling of suffocation. One is advised to immediately see a doctor if they experience unexplained shortness of breath, especially if it comes on suddenly and is severe.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Zachary Tomlinson

    March 22, 2021 at 1:13 am

    Thanks for pointing out that someone with COVID-19 would experience signs of scratchiness on their throat along with ever. One of my colleagues called in sick recently because of these symptoms. Maybe it’s time that he considers having a COVID test to make sure that he’s safe from this sickness.

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