These Subtle Signs Indicate You Have Had COVID In The Past
- Dr. Pragnya Rao
- 5 Min Read
The year 2020 has almost run past us like no other. As we are approaching its tail end, we are beginning to see that COVID-19 cases have been uninterruptedly showing up in India. The dream of a COVID-free world might have to wait for a while until the vaccinations become commonplace.
While the typical COVID symptoms include fever, dry cough and breathlessness, sometimes COVID infection can progress to severe pneumonia and thereby making COVID recovery time longer. However, the majority of patients who test positive for COVID infection have mild to no symptoms.
This brings us to an important note- COVID symptoms can be mild and of such a varied spectrum that the viral infection may often be misdiagnosed or unnoticed.
Many studies about the prevalence of COVID infection in urban and suburban areas have shown that many people had developed antibodies to the virus without necessarily having complained of typical COVID symptoms.
If you are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath, the best way to confirm if you have an active viral infection would be to get an RT-PCR test done. However, if you are doubtful that you may have been exposed to the virus in the past, you may want to look at these subtle signs that may indicate that you have had the COVID infection in the past-
Fever and sore throat in the recent past
If you had been sick earlier in the year with fever (mild to moderate) for 3 days and more with a sore throat, it may have been possible for you to have considered it to be common cold. It is possible that you may have actually had a mild COVID infection and your body managed to fight through it.
Dry cough that doesn’t go away
One of the COVID symptoms that seem to linger on even after COVID recovery is a dry cough. However, you may not have had typical symptoms of COVID infection, but you may be experiencing persistent dry cough without the production of phlegm. While a dry cough is commonly experienced by chronic smokers, it may also be a subtle sign that you may have had COVID infection in the past.
Chest pain & shortness of breath
Since COVID infection primarily affects the respiratory system, it can lead to temporary chest pain and breathlessness post-COVID recovery. When the ongoing infection turns severe, these symptoms point towards pneumonia, which can be checked for using X-Ray and CT scans.
If you have not had all the tell-tale signs pointing towards COVID but you do develop chest pain and shortness of breath, it would be worthwhile to consider that these symptoms are sequelae of a past COVID infection.
Loss of smell and taste
Perhaps the most notorious COVID symptoms that stay even after the viral infection is long gone would be anosmia and loss of taste. They take quite some time to be restored when compared to other symptoms that one may get relief from quickly.
Anosmia or loss of smell occurs even during common cold or seasonal allergies, but in those recovering from COVID infection, it may take up to 4 weeks in order to restore their sense of smell using olfactory training & other methods. Sense of taste and a good appetite also returns post the viral infection- slow but steadily.
Fatigue and body ache
If you have unexplained fatigue and body ache after a brief period of illness, you may be facing a symptom that is most common amongst those who have recovered from a detected COVID infection.
Fatigue & muscle pain is often passed off as results of overexertion or nutritional deficiencies. While this is true, these symptoms are also indicative that you had COVID in the past. Sore muscles and cramps after a brief cold or illness may suggest the same.
Skin changes & Covid toes
Dry skin is a very common skin complaint, especially during the winter months. However, if you notice skin rashes that are itchy or red bumps on your skin that may be painful, you may need to be wary of COVID rashes. Skin manifestations of COVID infection have come to light following extensive research. This also includes painful bumps on hands and feet. ‘COVID toes’ is one of the types, where rashes take the form of purple skin lesions that may be painful. This could occur due to the status of blood in smaller vessels, thereby leading to the purple colour.
Pink eye or red, itchy eyes can be one of the COVID symptoms, which may linger on especially since the viral infection can also be transmitted through aerosol contact with the conjunctiva. The inflammation of this outer membrane of the eyeball is called conjunctivitis aka ‘Madras eye’ or ‘pink eye’. Mild conjunctivitis could be an indicator that you had COVID infection in the past.
Here comes the big question. Suppose you seem to have one or some of these symptoms above and you would like to confirm if you have or have had the COVID infection. Is there a way to do that?
Yes, absolutely. If you are symptomatic with fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc then it would be best to get an RT-PCR test done after consulting with a specialist online, which is done using a nasal swab to detect the presence of an active COVID infection.
If you have some of these symptoms following a brief illness or a recent travel or being present in any other high-risk situation, and you want to know if those were in fact, COVID symptoms, then you can get an antibody test done from the comfort of your home. Antibody tests can confirm if your body was exposed to the virus in the past and if your immune system developed antibodies to fight it off.