This Is How to Tell If Your Fatigue Could Be COVID, Doctors Say

Paul Thompson

If you are feeling more tired than usual right now, you're not alone. The important thing is identifying why that's the case. Any number of things—from stress to exercise to depression—could be causing your exhaustion, including COVID-19. In fact, it's one of the most common symptoms of the disease, medical experts say. For example, Robert A. Salata, MD, program director of the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine&Global Health, told the Cleveland Clinic that he estimates some element of fatigue exists in 75 percent of coronavirus patients.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean you have COVID-19 just because you are feeling more worn out than usual. As previously mentioned, plenty of things could be responsible for draining your energy. You just need to know how to determine what those might be. To help you out with that, here's how you can tell if your fatigue could be COVID, according to doctors. And for clarification on another symptom, This Is How to Know If Your Stuffy Nose Could Be COVID.

1

You have body aches.

Woman with back pain holding back sitting on couch
Woman with back pain holding back sitting on couch

One way to tell if COVID is the cause of your fatigue is if it is accompanied by other symptoms like body aches. "If you get more symptoms, so it's not just the fatigue, but fatigue plus body aches plus a cough and a fever, that's worrisome," Andrew Varga, MD, a neuroscientist and physician at the Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center, told New York magazine. And for places and activities that you should steer clear of right now, check out I'm a Doctor and Here's the Worst Thing You're Doing as COVID Surges.

2

You feel foggy or out of it mentally.

Worried mature man having a headache
Worried mature man having a headache

If in addition to feeling tired, you have a sense of fogginess or being "out of it," this might be cause for concern. Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist Joseph Khabbaza, MD, says that some form of brain fog was found relatively often in patients, even in those with milder cases of COVID-19. And for more on cases that are not so mild, check out 80 Percent of Hospitalized COVID Patients Are Deficient in This Vitamin.

3

You don't have an appetite.

Woman who doesn't want to eat
Woman who doesn't want to eat

In more severe cases of COVID-19, Khabbaza says patients often have more serious delirium that accompanies their fatigue. This, he says, may be a result of a lack of appetite—another symptom that can help you distinguish if your fatigue is being caused by COVID. "People may also have lower appetites so their nutritional status might not be great, they might be sleeping too little or too much, which can affect how your mind is wired," Khabbaza says. And for more helpful information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4

You feel your symptom is more than typical fatigue.

Tired woman on couch
Tired woman on couch

David Margolius, MD, a MetroHealth doctor who manages the system's COVID-19 hotline, told the Cleveland Clinic that if you feel completely incapacitated by your fatigue, it very well could be because of COVID. "It's more the run-down feeling you might get with the flu," he says. "For folks who have had H1N1 they remember that feeling of feeling like they've been run over by a truck." And for information on where the pandemic is worsening, check out These Are the 7 New COVID Hotspots in the U.S.