Could My Winter Cold Have Been Coronavirus?
Were you sick earlier this year with a cold that lasted longer than normal
or just wouldn’t go away? You may have even visited your doctor
only to be diagnosed with an unknown virus. But could it have actually
been COVID-19? According to health officials, it’s possible.
The first official case of COVID-19 wasn’t diagnosed in the U.S.
until late January. However, it’s possible that the virus was circulating
for weeks before tests became widely available. Symptoms of the virus
mirror those of other viruses, including the common cold, so without a
test, there’s no way to know for sure whether or not you’ve
already had COVID-19. In general, colds are milder and shorter than this
coronavirus, but symptoms vary wildly among those infected. Typically:
Cold symptoms (coughing, sneezing, mild
sore throat) peak within 2 -3 days, while COVID-19 symptoms (fever, shortness of breath
and dry cough) typically take longer to appear, averaging about 6 days
but sometimes taking up to 14.
- A cold doesn’t usually last longer than a week or two while COVID-19
lasts much longer – sometimes up to 6 weeks in severe cases.
- A fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, though it is rarely a symptom
of the common cold.
- Shortness of breath is not typically a symptom of a cold, but it is a common
symptom of COVID-19.
Scientists are currently working on blood tests to identify coronavirus
antibodies so we can have a more complete sense of who had the virus already.
This may be similar to blood tests we have available for infectious mononucleosis
or "mono" - another viral infection commonly encountered. Testing
approval will take time in order to ensure accuracy. In the meantime,
don’t assume you’re already immune. Stay home as much as possible,
wash your hands appropriately and avoid interacting with people outside
of your household.