COVID-19 Sign and Symptoms

Overview 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. 

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

World Health Organization

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Symptoms of COVID-19 

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • Cough,
  • Difficulty in breathing,
  • Fever (38.0° C [100.4° F] or greater using an oral thermometer).

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

For the vast majority of people, COVID19 is a short lived illness which can cause: High temperature, shortness of breath and cough as the most common symptoms from which people make a full recovery.

If you’re confused about the differences between symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the cold and flu, the HSE has more information.

Compare symptoms of coronavirus, flu and cold, and Hay Fever

Symptoms

Coronavirus

Symptoms range from mild to severe

Flu

Abrupt onset of symptoms

Cold

Gradual onset of symptoms

Fever or chills

Common

Common

Rare

Cough

Common (usually dry)

Common (usually dry)

Mild

Fatigue

Common

Common

Sometimes

Aches and pains

Common

Common

Common

Sore throat

Sometimes

Sometimes

Common

Headaches

Sometimes

Common

Rare

Mild shortness of breath

Sometimes

No

No

Runny or Stuffy Nose

Sometimes

Sometimes

Common

Feeling sick or vomiting

Rare

Sometimes

No

Diarrhoea

Rare

Sometimes in children

No

Sneezing

No

No

Common

Hay fever symptoms

The pollen count is higher now so more people will experience hay fever. If you normally get hay fever, you will be familiar with the typical signs and symptoms. They usually occur about the same time every year. 

Typical hay fever symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose 
  • itchy red or watery eyes  
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

While there are some similarities between the symptoms of coronavirus and hay fever, there are also ways to tell the difference.

Hay fever symptoms get worse when you are exposed to certain triggers. For example pollen, weeds or grass. 

Hay fever does not cause a high temperature and most people with hay fever do not feel unwell.

While coronavirus can cause symptoms in your upper airways such as loss of smell or a blocked nose, it is usually associated with a high temperature, aches and pains and a cough. 

Over the counter medicines from your pharmacy can help to treat the symptoms of hay fever. If you take steroid nasal sprays you should continue to do so.

Talk to your GP if you have severe or persistent symptoms.

Read more about hay fever