Covid Symptoms Timeline

Although it feels like COVID-19 has been with us forever, it’s only been a pandemic for less than a year. Yet, in less than six months, it has wreaked havoc on the world economy, our daily lives, and caused over 800,000 deaths worldwide. 

Because of its potential for serious complications, it’s good to know the coronavirus’s signs and symptoms. Early detection can help prevent severe symptoms and keep other people from getting sick. For example, knowing what to look out for allows someone to spot signs of a possible COVID infection, prompting them to get tested and isolate themselves. 

It’s important to know if you have COVID and to isolate yourself immediately once you have symptoms. The following are COVID-19 symptoms in progression and an approximate timeline for when those symptoms might appear. 

10. Exposure and Transmission


The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. A person can catch the virus by inhaling virus particles or touching mucus membranes to anything that contains the virus. For instance, rubbing your eyes with fingers that have viruses can cause a COVID-19 infection. Being near someone with COVID-19 for long periods, especially in closed environments without protection, can lead to infections because of an increase in the chances of exposure to the virus. 

The virus typically spreads through droplets that remain in the air or spread onto objects, like doorknobs or countertops. When coughing or sneezing, virus-filled droplets filled shoot through the air. The heavier particles fall onto the surrounding areas, and the lighter droplets float through the air. An infected person may also spread the virus if they get viruses onto their hands and touch other objects, which is why masks and handwashing are essential. 

9. First Appearance of Symptoms

Getting Sick

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, the first symptoms of COVID-19 appear two to 14 days after exposure. Research confirms that about 97% of people infected with COVID will show their first symptoms within 11 days of exposure. For nearly half of people infected, however, the first symptoms begin approximately five days after exposure. 

At the same time, the 14-day estimate is not cut and dry. Out of every 10,000 infected people, about 101 will develop symptoms after the 14-day timeline. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • A new loss of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention include: 

  • Blue tinge to lips or face
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion

If you suspect that you may have been exposed or have the above symptoms, you can contact your healthcare provider. According to the CDC, you should follow these guidelines.  

8. Stay at Home

Stay Home

Keeping yourself away from others, called self-isolation, helps to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even if you haven’t received a test, you should only leave your home to get medical assistance. Otherwise, until you can confirm that you are not infected, you should isolate yourself. 

7. Monitor Your Symptoms of COVID-19


Be aware of how your symptoms are progressing, and if you develop new symptoms. Get medical care if severe symptoms develop or you feel you are in an emergency. 

6. Get Rest and Maintain Your Hydration


Your body is fighting a battle. You need to rest and let it do its job. Resting allows your body to reserve its energy to fight COVID-19. Staying hydrated allows your body to filter out the virus and replenish the fluids it loses through coughing, congestion, fever, and gastrointestinal symptoms. 

5. Use Over-the-Counter Medications If Necessary

Not Taking Your Medications

Acetaminophen can help bring your fever down and manage any aches and pains. Electrolyte drinks can also keep your fluids in balance. 

4. Stay Away from Others

Keep Your Distance

Stay in another room or area from others and use a separate bathroom. Try as much as you can to maintain your distance from other people. If you must come into contact with others, wear a face mask. 

3. If Possible, Do Not Use Public Transportation


If you have COVID symptoms, it’s vital to keep yourself away from other people, especially large groups. Avoid using the subway, taxis, buses, airplanes, or other forms of public transportation. 

2. If Possible, Avoid Public Settings

Public Places

Just like public transportation, you should avoid areas with a large number of people. If you need supplies, have them delivered or ask a friend or household member to get them. If you do have to leave home, wear a mask, especially in hospitals and healthcare settings, work areas, supermarkets, and pharmacies. 

1. Consult with Your Doctor First

Doctor Appointments

If you think you have COVID-19, and your symptoms aren’t severe, call ahead to your doctor first instead of going to a clinic or hospital. Your doctor may refer you to get testing or ask that you come in for an exam. If you have life-threatening symptoms, call emergency, and inform them that you have severe COVID symptoms. 

Being vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms can keep you and others safe. Knowing the timeline of when symptoms appear can help determine whether you have COVID or not. Most importantly, remember that not all cases of COVID-19 have symptoms. Many infected people may not have any symptoms at all. Wearing a mask when in public and washing hands frequently, even if you don’t have symptoms, can help keep COVID-19 in check.

Related: 8 Deadly COVID-19 Symptoms 


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