COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms of varying severity. Some people with COVID-19 will not experience any symptoms, and this is called asymptomatic infection. For around 40% of people who contract COVID-19, symptoms are mild and without hypoxia (a low level of oxygen in the blood) or pneumonia:
Main symptoms (most people have at least one of these):
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle ache
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting
Atypical symptoms can occur in older and immunocompromised people, often in the absence of a fever:
- reduced mobility
About 40% of people with COVID-19 have moderate symptoms and non-severe pneumonia, 15% have significant disease including severe pneumonia, and 5% experience critical disease with life-threatening complications. Critical disease includes acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, septic shock, cardiac disease, thromboembolic events, such as pulmonary embolism and multi-organ failure.
SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread via respiratory droplets through coughing and sneezing, but it has been detected in blood, faeces and urine.
Infants and children generally appear to experience milder symptoms than adults and further evidence is needed about the association between underlying conditions and risk of COVID-19 disease in children. A rare presentation of multisystem inflammatory syndrome temporarily associated with COVID-19 in children and adolescents has been noted.
There is growing evidence that in those who develop critical COVID-19 disease, there can be longer-term consequences such as rare neurological and psychiatric complications. These may include stroke, delirium, anxiety, depression, damage or inflammation of the brain, and sleep disturbances. Refer to the long-term health effects guidance for further information on commonly reported symptoms and services available for recovering COVID-19 patients.
Some factors are associated with a higher chance of developing severe or critical COVID-19 disease. These are:
If you feel unwell with any of the symptoms above, and live in the UK, you should follow NHS guidance.