Symptoms

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Know the Symptoms

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms are typically mild to moderate, but there have been cases of severe illness and death due to the virus. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

Congestion or runny nose

Cough Fever or chills
Headache Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing Muscle pain
Sore throat New loss of taste or smell Fatigue
Nausea or vomiting Diarrhea  

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update information about symptoms as more is learned about COVID-19.

    Steps to Take for Serious Symptoms

    Anyone with more serious symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, by calling their doctor or 911 right away. More serious symptoms can include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    I had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

    I had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

    If you have had close contact with someone while they were symptomatic, you should be tested. Learn more about testing.

    If you do not have health insurance, call your nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)

    Review the CDC’s actions to take based on your level of exposure.

    Can COVID-19 be spread before someone has symptoms?

    Can COVID-19 be spread before someone has symptoms?

    We know that people are most contagious when they have symptoms. Whether the virus can be spread before someone has symptoms is currently being evaluated. More on how COVID-19 spreads is available from the CDC.

    What's the difference between self-monitor, quarantine and isolation?

    What's the difference between self-monitor, quarantine and isolation?

    These are protective measures used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who may have been exposed.

    • Self-monitoring is for those that may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19. They should monitor themselves for symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath). People should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing. If they develop symptoms during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek medical advice by telephone.
    • Quarantine is for people who were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms. Contact your local health department or medical provider if you are unsure if you should self-quarantine.
    • Isolation separates people who are sick from those who are well. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina are in isolation.

    Learn about the difference between quarantine and isolation from the CDC and view a helpful guide from DHHS in English and Spanish.

    How can I limit exposure to COVID-19?

    How can I limit exposure to COVID-19?

    Household members and people who have been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home as much as possible for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms. Close contact means within six feet for at least 10 minutes. If they start having symptoms of COVID-19, they should take the same steps to prevent spreading it.

    Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.

    The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has actions you can take to prevent others from getting sick. This includes: 

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and put distance between yourself and other people.
    • Use a cloth covering that covers your mouth and nose when leaving the house, especially when you may not be able to keep 6 feet between yourself and other people.
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
    When can I end self-isolation?

    When can I end self-isolation?

    People who are sick with COVID-19 or believe they might have it should stay home and separate themselves from other people in their home as much as possible. They can end self-isolation and return to their normal activities when they can answer YES to ALL of the following questions: 

    • Has it been at least 10 days since your symptoms started?
    • Has it been 24 hours since you last had fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications?
    • Have your symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, improved?
    How is it decided when a person with COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must be confined somewhere?

    How is it decided when a person with COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must be confined somewhere?

    Local health departments will work in partnership with physicians and the NC Division of Public Health to determine whether a person with COVID-19 requires hospitalization or home isolation. The decision may be based on multiple factors including severity of illness, need for testing and suitability of home isolation.