96 Percent of COVID Patients Have At Least One of These Symptoms

CDC research suggests most patients will have one or more of these three coronavirus symptoms.

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COVID-19 can present itself in a multitude of ways, making it seem like a very different disease to many. Some people contract symptoms so severe they're forced to seek emergency medical care, while others who test positive may not experience any symptoms at all. However, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most symptomatic COVID patients actually have some significant similarities. In fact, a majority of coronavirus patients will have at least one of these three common COVID symptoms: fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

The study, published on July 17, was conducted among a convenience sample of 164 symptomatic COVID-19 patients in the United States from Jan. 14 to April 4. Out of those 164 patients, 158 of them reported fever, cough, or shortness of breath—meaning 96 percent of coronavirus patients typically have one of those three symptoms. And 45 percent of those patients reported having all three of the symptoms.

"Clinicians and public health professionals should be aware that COVID-19 can manifest a range of symptoms," the study said. But because "prompt identification of COVID-19 patients is important to slow the spread of disease," they say the first measure of identification for probable coronavirus patients should be whether they're experiencing these three common symptoms.

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Out of the three symptoms, cough was the most common—with 84 percent of patients saying they experienced this symptom. This was followed by fever, which 80 percent of patients reported. Shortness of breath was reported by 57 percent of the patients.

girl symptom cough and are protective with medical mask while sitting on sofa, Asia child wearing a protection mask epidemic of flu or covid-19 in living room at home. Health and illness concept
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Breaking the data down even further, the CDC looked at 57 hospitalized patients over the age of 18 and found that 68 percent (39 patients) reported having all three of the common symptoms, compared to 31 percent (25 patients) of the 81 non-hospitalized adult patients. According to the research, "among adult patients, shortness of breath was more commonly reported by hospitalized than by non-hospitalized patients." Shortness of breath was reported by 82 percent of hospitalized patients, compared to 38 percent of non-hospitalized patients.

However, these weren't the only symptoms reported by COVID-19 patients. The report also mentioned a wide variety of symptoms reported by more than half of the sample including chills, myalgia, headache, fatigue, and the presence of at least one gastrointestinal symptom (most commonly diarrhea). These symptoms were reported more commonly after COVID-19 testing guidelines were expanded, creating the "expansion of the types of patients eligible for testing and an increased awareness of other COVID-19 symptoms over time." And for more on coronavirus symptoms, check out the COVID-19 Symptoms That Until Recently Doctors "Had No Clue About."

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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