What are the symptoms of COVID-19, and is it enough to go for an antigen test or is PCR required? What does proper treatment look like and how long does quarantine last? Find out everything important.
- Basic information about COVID-19
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Risk groups
- Diagnostics (PCR or antigen tests)
- What should I do if I am positive?
- Home treatment COVID-19
- When to contact a doctor
- When to call 112
- Persons in the joint household
- Certificate of overcoming COVID-19
- COVID-19 vs other diseases (comparison of symptoms)
- COVID-19 / flu
- COVID-19 / rhinitis / flu / allergy
COVID-19 is a disease, SARS-CoV-2 virus
COVID-19 is caused by a type of Coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses in general have been known to us for a long time. These are RNA viruses that cause disease in both birds and mammals.
In humans, for example, they are responsible for common colds, which are more often caused by rhinoviruses. Other, more dangerous coronaviruses cause more serious diseases such as SARS, MERS or COVID-19.
COVID-19 mainly affects the respiratory system, in severe cases causing severe pneumonia, and can lead to the death of the patient. The virus is transmitted by droplets when coughing, sneezing and talking. It endangers people who are in close or prolonged contact with the infected person.
The infection is also transmitted through surfaces – the droplet falls on the surface, the other person touches it and then touches the face, specifically the mouth, nose or eyes.
How does COVID-19 manifest?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other upper respiratory tract infections. They may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, most often on days 5 to 6.
The course of the disease can be mild, but also severe to fatal. Older people most often have a serious course with other associated diseases, but a mutating and more infectious virus can also cause serious complications to younger people. Therefore, prevention is the most important – that is, the effort to protect against infection (The 3 W’s Principle– Wear a mask / Watch your distance / Wash hands).
Specific symptoms of COVID-19:
- fever or chills,
- a cough,
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
- muscle or whole body pain,
- loss of taste or smell,
- a sore throat,
- stuffy nose or discharge,
- nausea or vomiting,
The symptoms vary from the severity of the disease and others may occur. In particular, the elderly, obese people, diabetics and people with heart or lung disorders should be careful and follow precautionary measures to prevent infection.
Get medical attention immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- breathing problems,
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
- inability to wake up or stay up,
- pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds (depending on skin tone)
See a detailed comparison of COVID-19 symptoms, rhinitis, flu and allergies.
Risk groups in COVID-19
Older people are more likely to have a serious illness. As many as 81% of COVID-19 deaths are over the age of 65.
However, in addition to age, other factors also play a role, especially associated diseases. These are in particular:
- oncological diseases,
- chronic kidney disease,
- chronic liver disease (cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, liver steatosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)),
- chronic lung diseases (asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary embolism),
- type 1 and type 2 diabetes,
- heart disease (heart failure, ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure),
- stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases,
- obesity (Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30) and overweight (BMI between 25 and 30),
- red blood cell disease (sickle cell disease, thalassemia), blood clotting disorders,
- immunocompromised conditions = conditions with reduced immunity (AIDS patients, long-term use of systemic corticosteroids, use of immunosuppressants),
- psychiatric disorders (depression, schizophrenia),
- Down syndrome.
In addition to diseases, COVID-19 also increases the chances of a serious course of:
- pregnancy (up to 42 days after the end of pregnancy),
- smoking (including smoking in the past),
- alcohol and drug use,
- transplants (organs and bone marrow).
COVID-19 may initially be similar to the flu or allergies. Symptoms vary from person to person (read more below), so the test is the only reliable way to detect the disease.
Whether you use public services or flexibly book an appointment in a private company, the basis is to reveal the positives as soon as possible and start domestic quarantine. With a responsible approach, you can protect loved ones from infection.
Which test to choose?
You can pass antigen test (or buy Ag rapid test from the pharmacy) or RT-PCR test, which is more reliable and accurate. In addition to the classic nasopharyngeal testing, more comfortable salivary tests, which are completely painless, are already available.
It is true that after a positive antigen test, you can still verify your positivity with an RT-PCR test, as antigen tests have lower reliability or false positivity may occur. If you pass a positive RT-PCR test, no testing is required, as these tests are highly reliable.
Please also read:
- Difference between PCR test and antigen test (+ reliability)
- Advantages of PCR testing for self-payers
What should I do if I am COVID-19 positive?
Quarantine is mandatory after a positive test
By law, all persons positive for COVID-19 are ordered to be isolated. Isolation lasts 10 days after the test (or the appearance of symptoms, whichever is earlier), if you have not shown any clinical symptoms in the last 3 days.
If any of the clinical symptoms HAVE BEEN MISSED within the last 3 days, the isolation will continue and end only if your doctor so permits.
It does not follow from the regulations that you have to pass a control test after a certain time (this has been the case in the past). At present, we are governed only by the presence / absence of clinical symptoms.
However, responsibilities after a positive result may change during a pandemic. Therefore, please always check the current information on the website www.korona.gov.sk
Practical tips on how to proceed step by step
After obtaining a positive test result, proceed according to the following points:
- Isolate yourself and adhere to quarantine fairly,
- Contact your GP for a positive test result.
- Tell everyone you have been in close contact with within two days of the test.
During your home quarantine, monitor your health and follow these points recommended by the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic.
- take notes of your medical condition (they will mainly serve your doctor),
- measure your temperature twice a day,
- get a reliable oximeter (cheaper they may have too much deviation) and measure blood oxygen saturation two to three times a day,
- Measure pressure and pulse twice a day (measure it three times and from the second and third measurement count average).
- in case of hospitalization, keep on hand a list of medicines you are taking (including over-the-counter),
- ventilate regularly and try to limit contact with people in the same household,
- if you live alone, report your health to your loved ones on an ongoing basis.
COVID-19 home treatment
Antibiotics do not work for viral diseases such as COVID-19. Symptomatic treatment is applied to alleviate the symptoms while the immune system is infected with the virus.
Symptomatic treatment consists of the following points:
- increase fluid, vegetable and fruit intake,
- Get plenty of rest,
- use over-the-counter nasal sprays to relax the airways,
- in case of sore throat, over-the-counter lozenges will help,
- reach for paracetamol / acylpyrine with temperature,
- use a suitable over-the-counter drug for coughs (antitussives for dry / irritating coughs, mucolytics for wet / productive coughs),
- Indulge in vitamin C (2 g / day divided into 2-3 doses), vitamin D (1000 IU / day), zinc (10 mg / day) to support immunity.
When is hospitalization necessary?
Blood oxygen saturation will serve as a reliable indicator. You must contact your doctor or emergency services if the oximeter repeatedly shows you a value below 92 % (below 88 % for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). However, pay attention to the correct measurement of a quality device!
Therefore, it is good to measure saturation on multiple fingers, repeatedly and at rest. Long or varnished nails, artificial nails, weak batteries or cold fingers can distort the value.
In addition, you may experience the following other symptoms:
- you feel short of air and breathe during normal activities,
- a feeling of pressure in the chest,
- coughing up blood,
- paleness, blue lips,
- feeling tired, confused,
- loss of consciousness.
In case of these symptoms and low saturation, contact 112 or 155. Use the ambulance service only in cases where life is at stake. Talk to your GP about other questions about your condition.
What about people living in the same household with you?
People from the same household who are not vaccinated have a joint quarantine with you. As well as other people who have been in close contact with you two days before the first symptoms or before a positive test result (whichever was earlier).
People who have been vaccinated or who have had COVID-19 less than 180 days and do not have clinical symptoms do not have a legal quarantine or testing obligation.
However, due to new virus mutations, we highly recommend a preventive quarantine and PCR test to reliably determine negativity.
If the result is negative and you stay together in one household, try to keep contact to a minimum. It is also recommended to:
- wear masks / respirators,
- ventilate frequently,
- don’t touch the same things,
- set aside your dishes,
- use the bathroom last/after others,
- disinfect the contact surfaces one after the other.
If your doctor confirms that the quarantine has ended, you can immediately ask him or her to send you a COVID-19 confirmation of overcoming Covid-19. You can find a sample of the form on the Ministry website, just click on this link.
Private companies do not issue a certificate of for overcoming the disease.
COVID-19 vs. other diseases (comparison of symptoms)
COVID-19 / Influenza – Flu
COVID-19 and Flu have many similarities, but there are some differences that help doctors distinguish between them. The key difference is the incubation time of the viruses – that is, the time required for the symptoms to develop after infection with the virus.
While in influenza the symptoms appear suddenly from day to day (from 1 to 4 days after contact with the virus), in COVID-19 it is between 2 and 14 days and the onset of symptoms is not as sudden as in influenza.
We usually recover from the flu after 7 to 10 days, while recovery from COVID-19 takes at least 10 days. In severe cases, a gradual recovery can take several weeks or even months.
A specific symptom of COVID-19 is loss of taste or smell, but it is not the rule that it develops in every positive person. People who are positive for COVID-19 are also more likely to have difficulty breathing.
In addition, COVID-19 has a higher potential for long-term consequences after illness, including the formation of blood clots or inflammatory multisystem syndrome (especially children).
COVID-19 / rhinitis / flu / allergy
The symptoms themselves are somewhat more complex in several viral diseases. Below is a list of 11 symptoms that are easily confused between Coronavirus, flu, colds and allergies.
- Fever. Both Coronavirus and flu cause fever, but it is rare in common colds and does not occur in allergies. Patients with COVID-19 usually have a temperature of 37.5 ° C or higher, while patients with influenza most often have a fever between 37.5 ° C and 39 ° C, which lasts for three to four days.
- Headache. Headaches are rare when cold, sometimes caused by allergies. COVID-19 rarely causes headaches, while it is common and intense in the case of flu.
- Exhaustion. Coronavirus patients sometimes experience a more intense form of fatigue, which usually begins slowly. In the case of the flu, on the other hand, intense exhaustion is one of the primary symptoms. This symptom does not usually occur with a cold or allergy.
- Body and muscle pain. The flu is characterized by pain in the muscles and the whole body. COVID-19 causes such pain only sometimes. Rhinitis or allergies do not cause muscle and body pain.
- Fatigue and weakness. The incidence of symptoms is similar to that of calf muscle pain. Fatigue and weakness are more common and usually more severe with flu than with coronavirus. Rare in allergies.
- Stuffy/blocked/congested nose, discharge, sneezing. These symptoms are rare or mild in COVID-19. Occasional for flu, but common and typical for colds and allergies.
- A sore throat. Usually the first symptom of rhinitis, it also commonly occurs with the flu. It is rare with COVID-19 and allergies do not cause it.
- A cough. Common for flu and COVID-19. It is usually insignificant for colds, but can be very intense for flu. It also sometimes occurs in allergies.
- Shortness of breath. A life-threatening symptom that indicates a severe course of COVID-19. It also occurs with severe allergies and may rarely occur with the flu. If you experience this symptom, seek medical attention immediately.
- Diarrhea. Sometimes it is caused by COVID-19 and the flu.
- Loss of olfactory taste. If you have this symptom together with other symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, you most likely have COVID-19. It is a specific symptom and does not occur, or only very rarely, in other diseases mentioned. However, the absence of this symptom does not rule out COVID-19. Loss of smell and taste are common in this disease, but this is not the rule.
|Table of symptoms at the onset of the disease||Covid-19||Rhinitis||Flu||Seasonal allergies|
|Covid-19 / Rhinitis / Flu / Seasonal allergies||Onset of symptoms: – gradual – sudden||Onset of symptoms: – gradual||Onset of symptoms: – sudden||–|
|Incubation period||2 – 14 days||1 – 3 days||1 – 4 days||Variable|
|Cough||Common (usually dry)||Mild||Common (usually dry)||Occasionally|
|Joint and muscle pain||Occasionally||Common||Common||No|
|Rhinitis or stuffy nose||Rarely||Common||Occasionally||Common|
|Diarrhea||Rarely||No||Sometimes with children||No|
|Panting (shortness of breath)||Occasionally||No||No||Occasionally|
|Itchy nose, eyes or the roof of the mouth||No||No||No||Common|
|Watery, red or swollen eyes||No||No||No||Common|
|Loss of taste and smell||Occasionally||Rarely||No||No|