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Learn About Symptoms & What To Do If You Are Sick

Symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe illness. Some people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms of COVID-19. New variants of COVID-19 may cause different symptoms.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19^, stay home away from others and get tested for COVID-19. For information on how to get a COVID-19 test, visit ph.lacounty.com/covidtests/how.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or a doctor tells you that you have COVID-19, you must follow isolation requirements at ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation.
  • If you test negative for COVID-19, stay home until you have been fever-free without the help of fever-reducing medicines for at least 24 hours. If your negative result is from a rapid antigen test or a self-test, stay away from others and take at least one more test 48 hours later. This is because antigen tests (including self-tests) are more likely to miss early infections. If it is a self-test, make sure you read and follow all test instructions correctly. See FDA instructions on repeat testing.

When to seek medical care and COVID-19 treatment

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 ask for free treatment right away, even if your symptoms are mild. Don’t delay: the medicines work best when they are given soon after symptoms start. Most adults and some children qualify for COVID-19 medicines. See ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines for more information about how to access free COVID-19 medication.
  • If you develop any of the symptoms listed above, or any symptoms that are not on the list that concern you, contact your doctor^. If it’s not urgent, call before visiting - you may be able to get advice by phone. Let your doctor know if your symptoms get worse, especially if you are at high risk.
  • If you have emergency warning signs, call 911.

^Note: these symptoms could also be flu. If you are at higher risk for getting very sick from flu and you develop symptoms, contact your doctor right away. They may want to start you on antiviral flu medicine. See Box below.

Call 911 if there are emergency warning signs

Chest Pain
Bluish Lips
Sick Person

If you need help finding a doctor, call the Los Angeles County Information line 2-1-1, which is available 24/7.

*depending on skin tone

Dealing with stress

  • This is a worrying and stressful time. Visit the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s COVID-19 webpage and the 211LA webpage 211la.org/resources/subcategory/mental-health for local resources to address mental health & wellbeing needs and concerns. In addition, guidance and resources, including information on crisis hotlines, are also available on the CDC webpage Coping with stress.
  • LA County residents have free access to iPrevail.com, an online mental health resource to help with life's everyday stressors. After a short assessment, you are connected to customized support to meet your needs. Options include:
    • on-demand chat with trained Peer Coaches,
    • self-paced lessons on a variety of topics to improve wellbeing, and
    • community support groups
    iPrevail is offered in English and Spanish and is available 24/7 from any smart device.
  • If you need to speak with someone about your mental health, contact your doctor or the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Center 24/7 Helpline at (800) 854-7771, or call 2-1-1.
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19

Flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses but have many of the same symptoms. If you are sick, it can be difficult to tell from your symptoms which virus is the cause. To learn more, see CDC Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19.

Most people with flu have mild illness and don’t need medical care or antiviral drugs. But some people are at high risk of serious complications from the flu. This includes people over 65, young children, pregnant people, and people with certain medical conditions. If you have symptoms and are at high risk, contact your doctor straight away. Antiviral flu treatment should be started as soon as possible (within 2 days of the start of symptoms). Learn more at CDC Flu: What to do if you get sick.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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