Coronavirus survivors have told of the symptoms that led them to get a test for Covid-19.
As European nations crackdown on freedom of movement, and encourage people to work from home, what can you expect if you fall sick with the novel flu.
Since the outbreak was announced in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, medical professionals have been grappling to understand the virus’s symptoms and how they can be treated. Health experts say that the risk of becoming critically ill remains low and not everyone who contracts the virus will become ill.
Those who do are likely to experience symptoms similar to that of a normal bout of flu. Now, the experiences of some of those that have recovered from the virus sheds some light on what we should prepare for.
1. Painful sinuses
Painful sinuses are common when you get a fair few strains of a cold or the flu. Sinusitis can leave you feeling awful, both physically and mentally.
Pain, most often paired with a dull pressure, generally occurs when your sinuses become inflamed and swollen. You may feel pain in your forehead, on either side of your nose, in your upper jaws and teeth, or between your eyes.
While suffering with coronavirus, one man said that his sinuses were “agony”. Connor Reed, a resident of the Chinese city of Wuhan, is believed to be one of the first Brits to have caught coronavirus.
Connor, who is originally from North Wales, contracted the virus in November 2019 – a whole month before Chinese authorities officially announced the outbreak.
After 24 days of feeling ill, recording his day-to-day life in his diary, Connor was treated at a hospital that diagnosed him as being one of the first people to get the new strain of coronavirus, Covid-19.
The 25-year-old English teacher described his symptoms starting out with just a “sniffle” which he tried to medicate using hot whisky and honey, before succumbing to what he believed was the flu around a week in.
In his diary he wrote: “This is no longer just a cold. I ache all over, my head is thumping, my eyes are burning, my throat is constricted.” He said his ‘bones were aching’ and he had a ‘hacking cough.’
A few days later, the pneumonia had gone but he said he ached “as if I’ve been run over by a steamroller”.
“My sinuses are agony, and my eardrums feel ready to pop. I know I shouldn’t but I’m massaging my inner ear with cotton buds, trying to take the pain away.” Just a couple of days later, he reported feeling better.
2. Ear pressure
As Connor discovered, another of the symptoms of coronavirus is pressure in the ears that make them feel “ready to pop”. But unlike Connor, you shouldn’t be pushing cotton buds into your ears to try and relieve the pressure – you’ll end up doing more harm than good.
Because many of the virus’ symptoms are flu-like, this ear pressure is most likely to be caused by clogged up tubes in your ear thanks to all the nastiness of a virus inside your system.
More scientifically speaking, when the Eustachian tube (leading between your inner and middle ear) becomes clogged, you can feel fullness and pressure in your ear, as well as some muffled hearing and sometimes even earache.
These ear congestion symptoms can also be caused by problems in your middle ear or the ear canal that affects the eardrum. So sometimes it’s just a case of waiting for the virus to pass.
3. Thumping headache
Again, a pounding or thumping headache is sometimes typical of a bad cold or the flu. But it can also be a symptom of other things too, such as tiredness, dehydration and even a lack of iron in your system.
So don’t go panicking straight away if you’ve got a bit of a sore head. Make sure you drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest and try to relax. Take time away from your computer screen and avoid alcohol.
Health experts are advising anyone suspected of suffering with coronavirus symptoms to take Paracetamol instead of ibuprofen, but keep yourself updated on all the latest NHS information, as things may change as more tests are done on the virus.
4. Burning eyes
The best way to describe the sensation of burning eyes is to compare it with the itchiness and irritation you would face if you suffer with hay fever or other allergies.
This kind of itchiness and irritation can also come about when you’re among smog, smoke, dust, mold and even animals. The only difference between these cases and the cases described by coronavirus patients, is the fact that the virus triggers this symptom and not an external factor like pets.
5. Constricted throat
It seems as though patients suffering with COVID-19 experience a mixture of cold and flu-like symptoms, paired with typical symptoms of a small allergic reaction.
A constricted throat can be due to swelling and inflammation, brought about after lots of coughing, which we know to be a common occurrence among coronavirus sufferers.
But a constricted throat can also be caused by an infection, allergic reaction, as well as a variety of other conditions. If you find yourself really struggling to breathe, swallow or find any lumps or bumps you’ve not seen before, you may need to be checked by a doctor immediately.
So, it’s wise to keep monitoring your symptoms, in a diary like Connor, so you can see when things are beginning to change.
6. Aches all over
It’s no secret that having a cold or a bout of flu normally comes with feeling achy. And coronavirus is no different. Those falling ill with the virus have described aches and pains all over their body, not just as a result of blocked sinuses, ears or nose, but also in their arms, legs and chest too.
Many people will find the current coronavirus outbreak a stressful time, too, and this stress and tension can also worsen these aches and pains.
7. Lungs that ‘sound like a paper bag’
If when you breathe, your lungs sound almost crackly, then this could be a sign of something more serious than just your average cold or flu. This sort of noise can often occur if the small air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid, as well as the air you’re breathing in and out.
These air sacs filling with fluid can often happen as a result of pneumonia – which is a condition linked to coronavirus. If your breath sounds wheezy, this may be down to an inflammation of the bronchial tubes in your lungs.
Another common symptom of Covid-19, as well as cold, flu and many viruses in general, is feeling extremely tired or fatigued. Being told to rest is common when you’re ill, but feeling tired and not being able to sleep due to coughs and difficulty breathing, can make things all the more difficult.
Jaimuay Sae-ung, 73, was the first Thai national to contract coronavirus in December last year. Despite having underlying health conditions, including a heart problem, Jaimuay survived the illness after doctors isolated her at a hospital in Thailand for treatment.
Her symptoms included a fever and a bad cough, but she developed pneumonia while in quarantine and her family were worried she may not survive.
“I only knew (I had coronavirus) after I came to the hospital,” the mother of seven told Sky News. “I felt a bit sad, a bit shocked, tired and fatigued and I couldn’t eat.”
Jaimuay said she argued with doctors and nurses at the hospital because she believed she didn’t need to stay there. After 10 days, her condition had improved and she was eventually discharged following two negative test results.
9. Lack of appetite
Jaimuay also mentioned not being able to eat while suffering with coronavirus. The saying goes that you should feed a cold and starve a fever, so not managing to eat much may help to burn off coronavirus in the long run.
Of course, those who are ill should be sure to keep their energy up.
10. A fever
When coronavirus was first brought to people’s attention, a fever was one of the first symptoms to be on the look out for. It was later advised that if you had been in contact with, or indeed lived with, anyone who had a fever, you should self-isolate.
For some people, this is the only symptom of coronavirus they get. One young man, who did not want to be identified, is being treated for coronavirus in hospital after returning home from a short trip and noticing his temperature had risen, the Irish Mirror reports.
He told the RTE’s Claire Byrne Live show: “The only symptoms I had was, basically, the fever. I didn’t have any respiratory problem, any lung inflammation, any cough, any sneezing so was just the fever.
“I actually feel great now. I had a fever for a couple of days and now from Friday, I don’t have any more symptoms and so I am just here in the hospital being tested for the virus.
The man said he was a “little worried” but “not scared” and said he cannot leave the hospital until two consecutive tests show he has tested negative for Covid-19. He added: “The only thing I would say is that it is boring, I am here and I just have to read, watch some movies and that’s the only things. Apart from that I am fine.”
11. Tight chest and coughing spells
Another of the first symptoms of coronavirus to be identified, was a tight chest and persistent cough. Many scientists and health professionals have suggested that the water droplets passed through a cough or sneeze are the main cause of the virus spreading, which is why they have advised the entire population to wash their hands, cough and sneeze into a flexed elbow and use tissues wherever possible.
Having these symptoms on their own has meant that some people with the virus have not considered the possibility that they may have Covid-19.
Carl Goldman from Santa Clarita, who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship and later tested positive for coronavirus, said the virus ‘hasn’t been that bad’. In an article for The Washington Post, he explained that he developed a fever and ‘a bit of a cough’ during his flight back to America and was quarantined on his return.
“I am in my late 60s, and the sickest I’ve ever been was when I had bronchitis several years ago. That laid me out for a few days,” he said. “This has been much easier: no chills, no body aches. I breathe easily, and I don’t have a stuffy nose. “
My chest feels tight, and I have coughing spells. “If I were at home with similar symptoms, I probably would have gone to work as usual.” His treatment, he said, “consisted of what felt like gallons and gallons of Gatorade.”
12. Jet lag
One coronavirus sufferer described her symptoms as feeling like jet lag – a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones.
Your body has its own internal clock, or circadian rhythms, that sends signals to your body telling it when to stay awake and when to sleep. Similar to fatigue, the feeling of jet lag can make people feel that they’re not quite with it or even a bit spaced out.
Bridget Wilkins, who lives in London, flew to Australia via Singapore for a friend’s wedding last week – but is now quarantined in a hospital in Brisbane after testing positive for coronavirus.
The 29-year-old said the symptoms she had suffered included a headache, a sore throat and tiredness. Without realizing she had contracted the virus, she believed her symptoms were from jet lag after her long flight.
Speaking to Australia’s 7NEWS she said she had still had symptoms but ‘nothing more than that’. “There’s a lot of hype and hysteria on the news around coronavirus,” she said. “There should be. It’s very serious, particularly for the elderly and people with existing conditions. “But I think we have to calm down, because for most people, like myself, it is just a long cold that we can shake off.”
13. Feeling like passing out
Because such a virus can wipe someone out, it’s easy to see how some patients have felt like they could pass out. Such was the case with David and Sally Abel, from Oxfordshire, who became somewhat internet stars while documenting their journey after contracting coronavirus on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.
The couple were passengers on board the Diamond Princess and have been treated in hospital after testing positive for the virus while they were confined to their cabin. The pair were initially sceptical of their diagnosis and suggested that it was a ‘set up’ – but David, 74, later admitted he had become unwell while on his way to the hospital.
In a post on his Facebook page he said: “Outside the hospital I came over a bit weird and nearly passed out. “Every pore on my body opened and I was wheel chaired to our room.”
They were later both diagnosed with pneumonia as well as coronavirus. In their latest update, the couple said that Sally has been given the all clear after testing negative for coronavirus three times, but David had tested negative twice and positive once, which means he can’t leave yet.