These Are The 5 Major Symptoms of COVID-19 You Need to Watch Out For

Learn about the 5 major symptoms of COVID-19 you need to watch out for in this guide. An audio version is available to listen here.

Keep reading to learn more.

Learn about the 5 major COVID-19 symptoms
Learn about the 5 major COVID-19 symptoms / Image: UCSD

The impact of COVID-19 on mental wellbeing

Feelings of worry, sadness and frustration have been rising all over the world, and that’s not a good thing, neither personally, nor collectively as a society. Confusion and lack of information about the COVID-19 virus plays a big role in causing all that stress and unhappiness, so this is a topic that is essential to have some clarity on. 

Personally, it really concerns me when I see people jumping to wrong conclusions based on incorrect or incomplete information. It’s like hypochondria of the mind – jumping to conclusions at breakneck speed as a result of fear. When that happens, it only causes more problems, and not just for the person involved. I had a few personal experiences of this recently. Moreover, stories about the negative impact of the virus on the wellbeing of families and individuals are all over the web, so you can see for yourself the way it is affecting lives.

One instance that really made an impression on me was the case of a 76-year old nurse who died of Coronavirus, and her family were not allowed to see her to say their goodbyes because of a potential risk of infection.

Situations like that are sad.

Really sad. 

At the end of the day, there’s no denying the fact that the COVID-19 virus is dangerous. But here’s the thing: the virus itself isn’t as dangerous as the lack of information or misinformation about the virus. It’s like how a panicked stampede over a fire breaking out in a public place can end up injuring or even killing more people than the fire itself might! The fear can (and often does) cause more damage than the thing itself. 

Fear-based reactions like that are often the result of lack of clarity or confusion, and when it comes to the current pandemic, one of the biggest sources of confusion is about the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus and what to watch out for. 

So let’s address this important fact and review the essential symptoms you actually need to keep in mind.

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What are the 5 major COVID-19 symptoms? 

When it comes to the actual symptoms, people who’ve been infected with the COVID-19 virus have been reported to have several different symptoms, often varying based on the intensity ranging from mild to severe cases. If you wanted to aggregate all the potential symptoms it’ll end up being a big list, which is one of the reasons why there’s a lot of confusion about what to watch out for.

In order to cut through the noise I’ve been researching and reviewing the information from reputable sources like the NHS, the CDC, the WHO etc and I found that there are five main COVID-19 symptoms you need to be aware of. 

Here they are:

  1. Continuous coughing: New and continuous coughing, where there’s a lot of coughing for over an hour or several coughing episodes within a 24 hour period.
  2. Fever: Fever, with a high temperature of above 37.8C.
  3. Respiratory issues: New instance of respiratory problems or breathing difficulties. The “new” aspect is important to note here, because if you have a history of breathing problems, like many people who suffer from asthma do, then it doesn’t make sense to panic every time you have breathing problems. This applies to the other symptoms too.
  4. Smell: Change or loss in your ability to smell.
  5. Taste: Change or loss in your ability to taste. 

Most people with the COVID-19 virus have at least one of these five symptoms, which makes this is a useful and important list to keep in mind.

Remember these five symptoms. 

Knowing the major symptoms of COVID-19 is important
Knowing the major symptoms of COVID-19 is important / Image: Getty


To help make it easier for you to remember them, I created an acronym: CFRST, pronounced C-first (continuous coughing, fever, respiratory problems, and loss or change in your ability to smell or taste). If you have any of these five symptoms, then you should consult a doctor, especially if they persist or get worse. But otherwise, don’t panic or worry yourself, as the worry will only harm you and not help. 

These five symptoms are essential to understand, as a lot of the worry related to COVID-19 stems from misunderstanding what symptoms to actually take note of. Not every headache is COVID-19, so don’t worry yourself every time you have any sort of minor health issue! 

2020 has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t have to define your life. Yes it’s changed how we do things and even how we live our lives, but it doesn’t have to take over our lives, or worse, negatively impact our happiness and peace of mind. This is one of the reasons why it is essential to be well informed about the virus and to have clarity about what to watch out for.

Having this clarity can help you look after yourself and others, as well as take precautions to better protect yourself and the people you care about. But at the very least, this clarity about the five symptoms can help you avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.  

This list of five symptoms is by no means a comprehensive list of all the symptoms of the virus, especially since more are being noted even now. Even the largest health bodies in the world like to CDC and the WHO are still updating their lists as we continue to learn more about this virus and it’s behaviour.

That said, these five COVID-19 symptoms (CFRST) are the major and obvious ones to note, based on the information from major health bodies and organisations.

Also, five is simpler to remember and act on than, say, fifteen. 

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CFRST sums up the major symptoms of COVID-19
Remember CFRST / Image: Alamy

What to do if you are ill (or suspect you are)

If you or someone you know has one or more of these five symptoms, then get in touch with your doctor. Otherwise, take care of your health and wellbeing and carry on with your life. That said, if you are still worried, or you’re feeling really ill, then use the a Coronavirus symptoms checker tool to figure out if there is something to be worried about, like the one on CDC’s website.

Using a tool like that is much better than losing sleep over whether you have the virus or not.

On that note, based on the city and country you live in, there will very likely be local medical helplines that you can call to get more information and even pre-screening, so look into that if you or someone you know shows symptoms of the virus.

It's important to have clarity about the major symptoms of COVID-19
It’s important to have clarity about the major symptoms of COVID-19 / Image: NATO

Next Steps

It’s important to be careful and look after your health,  but that said being anxious about every little health issue can actually do you more harm than good. So stop worrying every time you get a headache or sneeze in public! Just sneezing or getting a headache is not indicative of anything major – it hasn’t for hundreds of years, and it doesn’t now.

Take note of the symptoms that actually matter, and stop needlessly worrying about every little thing. If in doubt, get medical advice rather than worrying yourself sick over what might be… 

Being calm is important, now more than ever, so educate yourself in order to take proper care of yourself and others as well as to stop needless worries. Look after your health, both physical, and mental.  

Closing thoughts

What are your thoughts on the major symptoms of COVID-19?

Do you have any experience of your own to share about the major symptoms of COVID-19, or the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic?

Share your stories and thoughts in the comments section below.

Stay safe and stay sane.


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