Coronavirus Symptoms and When Should You See a Doctor?

The novel coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19. It produces respiratory problems, similar to flu and in serious cases pneumonia, shortness of breath and death. Here we talk about the symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 and how to tell them apart from those of seasonal flu, cough, cold, and allergies. We will also discuss when you should see a doctor and the tips for COVID-19 home treatment.

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      Symptoms of Coronavirus or COVID-19

      Three most common symptoms of COVID-19 experienced by the majority of the patients are:

      • Dry Cough
      • Shortness of Breath
      • Fever

      The virus can take 2 to 14 days after exposure to develop the symptoms. Some patients have also complained of experiencing the following COVID symptoms:

      • Persistent Headache
      • Sore Throat
      • Muscle Pain
      • New Loss of Smell and Taste
      • A General Feeling of being Unwell
      • Diarrhea
      • Chills

      On the other hand, some people are just asymptomatic and some only have mild symptoms initially, which develop into more severe symptoms. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 6 COVID positive people experience serious symptoms including difficulty in breathing. On the contrary, there are some cases in which people remain well and do not feel any symptoms despite being Coronavirus positive.

      Coronavirus or Flu or Cold

      • The symptoms of Coronavirus can be similar to other respiratory conditions like flu, seasonal allergies, and cold
      • Shortness of breath is one of the major difference between Cold/Flu and COVID-19
      • Loss of smell or taste is also another major difference
      • Patients who have asthma may find that a flu or cold also worsens their condition, but in the case of COVID, they can also face shortness of breath
      • Dry cough is also an alarming sign of this virus
      • Seasonal allergies usually cause symptoms similar to those of Coronavirus, they mostly cause wet cough and not dry cough and fever in extreme cases only

      Here is a table of symptoms that can help you differentiate between seasonal illnesses and COVID-19:





      Symptom Onset




      Incubation Period

      1-4 days

      1-3 days

      2-14 days







      Mild to Moderate






      Shortness of Breath




      Runny Nose








      Nasal Congestion




      Body ache








      Respiratory Issues




      Loss of taste and smell




      (Source: Medical News Today)

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      What Can I Do to Protect Myself and Others?

      To protect yourself and people living with you or around you, you can take the following steps as given below:

      • Regularly wash your hands with water and soap for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer if the water is not available
      • Practice social or physical distancing and do not come in close contact with anyone or do not meet if someone has COVID-19 symptoms
      • Avoid touching your face at any cost until its clean
      • While sneezing or coughing cover your face with a disposable tissue or towel
      • Disinfect and clean the most touched household surfaces like countertops, door handles and tables
      • Avoid travel unless it’s necessary

      People who are at a higher risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19 include:

      • Elderly people, especially above the age of 60 years
      • People with pre-existing conditions and co-morbidities like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, asthma, etc.
      • Those with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS or HIV

      People who fall under the higher-risk category are advised to take extra precautions, stay indoors, practice physical distancing, and maintain respiratory as well as hands hygiene.

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      When Should You See a Doctor?

      If you feel unwell and have a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, you should immedicably speak to your doctor or call the nearest medical facility to seek help. You can report your symptoms on Aarogya Setu App or call 1075.

      It is important to call in advance before visiting in person. It will give time to the healthcare staff to prepare facilities to prevent it from spreading to other people.

      Immediately seeking the right hospital care can reduce the risk of further complications. Also inform your doctor about your recent outings, doctor visit, trips, or if you came in contact with some infected person, etc.  

      If a person has any of the following symptoms, they should seek immediate medical help:

      • Pain or pressure around the chest
      • difficulty breathing
      • Pneumonia
      • A blue tinge to the face or lips

      Self-isolation at Home

      If you have COVID-19 symptoms then you immediately need to self-isolate. You should stay at home and avoid meeting people or go to buying food or medical care unless it’s inevitable.

      If a person with COVID-19 symptoms needs to go out or be around other people wear a face mask, gloves, and face shield to prevent the virus from spreading. You can also ask your family members and to deliver food and supplies to you or order the groceries online. I some areas there are separate provisions for people who are in self-isolation.

      Home Treatment

      Nearly 80% of the COVID-19 positive people recover themselves at home without the need to staying in a hospital or any specialist treatment. Patients with mild coronavirus symptoms can recover at home. For home treatment care you can follow the below guidelines as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations:

      • Quarantine or self-isolation at home, by staying home and away from other people at home or in office unless you are going to seeking medical care
      • Rest properly and drink plenty of fluids
      • Call your doctor before visiting
      • Cover your face while sneezing or coughing, and disposing of the tissues straight away
      • Wearing a face mask in the presence of others
      • Do not share items like utensils, toothbrushes, bedding, and towels
      • Regularly washing and sanitizing your hands
      • Disinfect and clean regularly touched surfaces
      • If possible stay in a separate room and bathroom
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      At home, mostly, it is recommended to consume Vitamins and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report, there haven’t been any reports that the drug will worsen COVID-19 symptoms. Some patients also take acetaminophen to relieve their pains, aches, and fever. However, do not take any medicine on your own, seek medical help and take only the prescribed medicines. 

      While you are quarantined at home do monitor your symptoms carefully and get an oximeter to monitor your oxygen levels. In case your symptoms become severe, immediately call a doctor.

      Medical Treatment

      Those who have severe symptoms or are dealing with COVID-19 related complications may require hospital treatment. It can also lead to fatal consequences, but most people get better with supportive medical care.

      As we all know, there is no set medication or treatment to prevent or cure the Novel Coronavirus, and it does not get killed by antibiotics, therefore, the vaccine is under the process, but it is a long road ahead.

      People with good immunity response can recover faster and boosting immunity is an important part of the medical process to help patient fight this disease. Healthcare treatment depends on the severity of the illness and whether the infected person has pre-existing conditions or not. If it affects the other vital organs including the respiratory system then the person would require ventilator support and treatment for other organ function.

      In a Nutshell

      Firstly you need to recognize the COVID-19 symptoms like dry cough, sore throat, a fever, and shortness of breath. If the symptoms are mild or you are asymptomatic then you treat at home. Senior citizens and people with severe symptoms should consult a doctor and take all the necessary precautions as mentioned in the above article.

      If you are pro-active in maintaining social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, and self-isolating, it can protect you and others around you.

      Disclaimer: Policybazaar does not endorse, rate or recommend any particular insurer or insurance product offered by an insurer.

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