A year ago we knew little about the new viral disease that was sweeping the world, which quickly became known as COVID-19.

It looked like the main symptoms of coronavirus infection were a high temperature and a persistent cough. But it soon became clear that there was more to COVID than cough and fever.

Of course, having one or more of these symptoms does not mean it’s definitely due to COVID-19, as they can also occur with other illnesses. However, these symptoms have been reported more often by people who have a positive test than those testing negative.

Here’s a list of the symptoms we know about so far. Follow the links to find out more about what each symptom is like, how common it is, and what other symptoms you’re likely to experience alongside it:

1. High temperature (fever)

The COVID Symptom Study app found that around four in ten people reporting symptoms of COVID-19 have a high temperature (fever).

Fever is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a normal response to infection, as raising your body temperature helps your immune system fight it off.

If you’re under 65, having a temperature over 37.8°C is likely to be a sign of COVID-19. If you’re over 65 or very thin, your normal body temperature is likely to be lower, so a reading over 37.4°C should be considered to be a potential symptom.

You can measure your temperature at home using a thermometer – read our blog post to find out how. An in-ear thermometer is best but an oral (mouth) thermometer is fine. Other devices like smartphones may not be so reliable.

If you don’t have a thermometer, the key sign to look out for is feeling hotter than usual, particularly on your chest or back. You may also be shivery or have chills.

2. Persistent cough

A persistent cough is widely known as one of the three ‘classic’ symptoms of COVID-19, along with fever and loss of smell, although only around four in ten people who are ill with COVID-19 will have a persistent cough.

In this context, persistent means coughing many times a day, for half a day or more. It can be hard to notice if you’re coughing more than usual, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on yourself and others around you.

This is usually a dry (unproductive) cough, unless you have an underlying lung condition that normally makes you cough up phlegm or mucus.

3. Loss or change in smell (anosmia)

If you have anosmia or a change in your sense of smell, you may notice that that you can’t smell strongly scented things like coffee or flowers (or candles!). You may also notice that food tastes different from normal or seems tasteless (dysgeusia).

4. Loss or change in taste (dysgeusia)

If you have anosmia or a change in your sense of smell, you may notice that that you can’t smell strongly scented things like coffee or flowers (or candles!). You may also notice that food tastes different from normal or seems tasteless (dysgeusia).

It’s easy and quick to test your sense of smell every day using simple household items – read our blog post to find out how.

5. Headaches

Even though headaches are a less well-known symptom of COVID-19, they are one of the earliest signs of the disease and more common than the ‘classic’ symptoms of cough, fever and loss of smell (anosmia).

It’s important to remember that headaches are very common, especially as many of us are staring at screens for so long each day. So although many people with COVID-19 experience headaches, most people with a headache will not have COVID-19.

If you start feeling ill, especially with any of the seven symptoms listed above, it could be COVID-19. You should self-isolate, get a test to help protect your community and bring the pandemic to an end.

Stay safe and keep logging.

Open chat