Coronavirus symptoms: How do I know if my symptoms are real? Signs to look out for

Coronavirus symptoms: How do I know if my symptoms are real? Signs to look out for


As the coronavirus pandemic ensues a lot of confusion regarding symptoms and signs of the deadly virus continually come up. What is known is the coronavirus brings about symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, however a lot of ambiguity remains regarding how to know for sure if you have the virus. Professor in Health and Psychology at the University of Surrey, Jane Ogden weighs in on some of the myths surrounding symptoms of coronavirus.


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Professor Jane Ogden said: “Much as the serious symptoms of Covid-19 are clearly undisputable, those experienced in the early days following exposure to the virus are all too familiar and open to all the biases of symptom perception that influenced our daily lives way before this recent pandemic hit us.

“And this process of symptom perception isn’t always helped by the constant bombardment by the media which can lead to health anxiety and hypervigilance which in turn make nay symptom worse.

“Every year I carry out a study with my students to illustrate how symptoms are perceptions not sensations.

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“They all take part in a leg raising task when they sit down with their backs against the chair and lift a leg up horizontally for one minute whilst either relaxing, describing how it feels, chatting about their weekend or doing nothing.

“They then rate how much it hurts and every year it works a dream – pain is significantly greater when they focus on their leg than when they are distracted.

“Symptoms are clearly modified by mood and anxiety makes them worse. And in today’s world of coronavirus who can’t help but watch their body for changes, worry about their tickly throat and check their forehead for any hint of a fever? 


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All of which will also make these symptoms feel worse than they are. But symptoms are also contagious in more ways than just through the virus.

“In 1982 David Mechanic described a syndrome called medical student’s disease which illustrated how medical students often ‘caught’ the disease they were studying in class.

“So, they experienced chest pain when studying cardiology or breathlessness when in respiratory classes.

“A few years ago, I also carried out a study on the social contagion of symptoms and found that when watching films of head lice or people jumping into icy water, participants either itched or shivered.


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“We live in strange times when we need to know whether we are ill or not to protect those who are more vulnerable.

“But this process is not without its problems whilst telling people to be vigilant of their symptoms may well help identify real symptoms of Covid-19 a whole load of more minor symptoms which would have been better ignored.

“This may lead to unnecessary self-isolation and pressure on workplaces such as schools when people stay at home.”

At this stage, what is understood regarding the deadly virus so far, is that it is a highly infectious respiratory infection which is spread through coughs and the droplets formed.

This makes it likely to spread quickly in crowded places.

Due to the virus’s high threat of spreading, people who are more prone to catching the virus from sneezes and coughs need to stay at home.

If anyone does have similar symptoms, isolating yourself for a minimum of seven days is strongly advised.

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