Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

What Really Happens When You Get Coronavirus

COVID-19 remains an unknown virus for the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. One of the most challenging aspects of this virus is that it affects everyone so differently. While some people have no symptoms at all, others may become deathly ill. It is impossible to predict how your body will react to the virus. However, here are some of the most common reactions and you can do reduce the odds that you catch this deadly virus.

Respiratory Distress

The coronavirus is an illness that wreaks havoc on the respiratory system. This means that the lungs are generally affected first.


The most prevailing symptom of confirmed cases is the presence of a dry and hacking cough. Unlike some respiratory conditions, the cough associated with COVID-19 is not a productive cough.


Although some individuals only report minor respiratory symptoms, other patients develop more serious forms of pneumonia or lung failure. The damage that happens to the lungs during COVID-19 is similar to what happens during a SARS and MERS illness.


A fever is the body’s natural reaction when attempting to fight off an infection or virus. For this reason, it is no surprise to learn that many COVID-19 patients experience a mild to moderate fever as the virus takes hold in the body.


It is important to note that not all patients spike a fever. While it was initially widely believed that fever was one of the most common symptoms, this is usually a symptom reserved for those with the most serious cases.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Although gastrointestinal issues are less common than respiratory problems, it should be noted that a good number of people deal with gut difficulties. The most common gastrointestinal issues are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This happens despite the gut being less hospitable to the virus.

Miscellaneous Symptoms

As more is learned about this virus, it becomes obvious that there is no clear set of symptoms that distinguish it from other common illnesses. COVID-19 often presents with a list of unusual symptoms.


Many patients that have been confirmed to be a positive report that their first inclination that something was wrong was a loss of taste or smell. Other odd symptoms include eye problems, changes in the skin, and itchy lesions on the hands and the feet. Some sufferers also note a level of confusion and mental impairment that most often happens at night.


In addition, severe cases may manifest as damage to the heart or problems with blood clotting. While not the usual course of symptoms, kidney failure, and liver damage are also possible with the coronavirus. This generally happens in the most severe cases that require hospitalization. As a result of the infection, the body may also produce an intense inflammatory response known as a “cytokine storm.”

Onset of Symptoms

The earliest symptoms that most people experience include fever, cough, and general shortness of breath. These symptoms can appear as soon as 2 days after the initial exposure to the virus. The average incubation period is five days. This means that you may be shedding the virus and infecting others before you begin to show symptoms. As previously noted, some infected individuals never show symptoms despite testing positive for the presence of the virus.

How to Protect Yourself

Short of putting yourself in a bubble, there is no way to completely isolate yourself from the virus. However, there are steps that you can take to lower your risk. Keeping plenty of reusable face masks on hand to use any time that you are outside of your own home is a good start in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.


You also need to be mindful of washing your hands frequently, especially when out in public. While regular soap and water is always the best choice, hand sanitizer can also work in a pinch. Avoiding large crowds, social distancing, and keeping your circle small are all ways that you can further protect yourself.


It is clear that there is still a lot to learn about this novel virus. In the meantime, you can do your part by taking steps to protect yourself and others and trying to learn as much as possible about this global health crisis.