11 Early Warning Signs You May Have Already Had Covid-19 Without You Realizing

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You have cancer

People who live with cancer have a 60 percent higher risk of testing positive for Covid-19, according to a May 2020 study preprinted in medRxiv from Massachusetts General Hospital, sponsored by Stand Up 2 Cancer. This risk was higher among participants older than 65 years of age and among men. What’s more, people with cancer were more likely to have severe cases of Covid-19 that required hospitalization.

You had a stroke out of the blue

There’s a link between Covid-19 and stroke risk—even among younger patients. Here’s what doctors and researchers know so far about stroke risk and coronavirus. Plus, here are the warning signs of a blood clot or stroke, and what to do if you suspect a stroke.

You woke up with pink eye

Pink eye infection, or conjunctivitis, may be a sign of coronavirus, but this is very rare, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. They advise if you develop pink eye, do not panic. “Call your ophthalmologist to let them know and follow their instructions for care,” the Academy suggests.

The role of Covid-19 antibody testing

The real question is what to do if you think you may have had Covid-19. When in doubt, seek antibody testing, experts agree.

The only way to know whether you have had Covid-19 is to be tested for antibodies, says Matthew G. Heinz, MD, a hospitalist and internist at Tucson Medical Center in Tucson and former director of provider outreach in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under the Obama administration. Antibodies are produced when the body mounts its immune response to an infection, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Antibody tests can tell whether someone has been infected with Covid-19 in the past as opposed to having an active infection, the agency notes.

Antibody testing is not fail-safe and no-one can say for sure that you can’t get Covid-19 twice, Dr. Heinz says. “These blood tests can say if you have had Covid-19 but we don’t know if the presence of antibodies means you are immune and if so, for how long this immunity may last.”

Time it right, he advises. Don’t get tested too soon after symptoms as that could lead to a false-negative result. You don’t need to have had symptoms to consider testing since many people don’t experience any symptoms. “If you are even asking the question, ‘did I have Covid-19,’ order the test,” he says. “The more we know about how many people have had exposure, the better.” This information can let researchers know how close we are to “herd immunity.” This means that a high percentage of people in the community are immune to a disease so its chances of spreading from person to person are unlikely, according to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

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