Symptoms & Testing


What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Is it possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes. It is possible to test positive for flu (as well as other respiratory infections) and COVID-19 at the same time.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

Maybe; not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first.

You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing. See Test for Past Infection for more information.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. A viral test checks for a current infection. An antibody test checks for a previous infection.

If you think you need a viral test, call your healthcare provider or state or local health department and tell them about your symptoms and how you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Your healthcare provider can let you know if they offer viral tests at their office. Your state or local health department can provide local information on where testing is available. See Testing for Current Infection for more information.

If you want an antibody test, call your healthcare provider to see if they offer antibody tests and whether you should get one. You can also visit your state or local health department’s website for local information on antibody testing.

Can someone test negative and later test positive on a viral test for COVID-19?

Yes, it is possible. You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others. See Testing for Current Infection for more information.

What kind of tests are being used to diagnose COVID-19?

Viral tests are used to diagnose COVID-19. These tests tell you if you currently have an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. There are many viral tests available. All of the viral tests identify the virus in respiratory samples, such as from swabs from the inside of your nose.

Some tests are conducted at the testing site you visit, and results are available to you within minutes. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze, a process that takes 1-2 days once the laboratory receives your samples. Two tests allow you to collect your sample at home – either a swab from the inside of your nose or a saliva sample – but you will still need to send the sample to a laboratory for processing.

Locations and types of testing sites vary depending on where you live (see question: Where can I get tested). Check with your testing site to learn which test it uses. You can find a patient information sheet about each test on FDA’s website

What is antibody testing? And can I be tested using this method?

Antibody testing checks a sample of a person’s blood to look for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. When someone gets COVID-19, their body usually makes antibodies. However, it typically takes one to three weeks to develop these antibodies. Some people may take even longer to develop antibodies, and some people may not develop antibodies. A positive result from this test may mean that person was previously infected with the virus. Talk to your healthcare provider about what your antibody test result means.

Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose COVID-19. To see if you are currently infected, you need a viral test. Viral tests identify the virus in respiratory samples, such as swabs from the inside of your nose.

We do not know yet if having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 can protect someone from getting infected again or, if they do, how long this protection might last. Scientists are conducting research to answer those questions.

If I have recovered from COVID-19, will I be immune to it?

We do not know yet if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected again. CDC and partners are investigating to determine if a person can get sick with COVID-19 more than once. Until we know more, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others.