Hesperian Health Guides

COVID-19: Is your sickness COVID-19?

Without a test, it can be difficult to know what illness a person has. Depending on the person, COVID-19 can have many different signs and many of those signs also are caused by other health problems. Signs can be mild, uncomfortable, or very serious.

Are there danger signs: trouble breathing or severe chest pain? Is there a high fever (102°F/ 39°C or higher) and medicine for fever isn’t helping?
The person needs help in a health facility. Call ahead to know where to go and what to do. Anyone taking care of the person could also be infected, even if they have no signs. Protect yourself and others from getting sick.
Is there high fever, dry cough, tiredness or shortness of breath? These are the most common signs of COVID-19.
This could be coronavirus or it could be another virus. If available, get a test to know for sure. You can treat at home. No matter what the illness, protect others from getting sick.

If the person is older than 55, has heart disease, existing lung problems, or diabetes, the risk of serious illness is greater. Seek medical advice sooner.

If the person gets worse and emergency signs appear, they need help in a health facility. Protect others from getting sick.
Are there aches and pains, congested or runny nose, sore throat, cannot taste or smell normally? These are signs of coronavirus but also could be from another virus or illness. It is hard to know for sure without a test, but the care is the same
Is there a wet cough or sneezing? If coronavirus is not yet in your region then a wet cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever are more likely to be signs of a cold or flu than coronavirus.
Does the person often get signs of allergies (congested or runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches, breathing problems) and has no fever? Probably these are just their regular allergies.

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This page was updated:13 Sep 2020