How long does it take for coronavirus symptoms to show?

Incubation Period for the Coronavirus

An incubation period is a time between when you contract a virus and when your symptoms start.

Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, the incubation period for the novel coronavirus is somewhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure.

According to a recent reportTrusted Source, more than 97 percent of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 show symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure. The average incubation period seems to be around 5 days. 

For many people, COVID-19 symptoms start as mild symptoms and gradually get worse over a few days.

What are the typical symptoms? 

Symptoms of COVID-19 are usually mild and develop slowly. The main symptoms are:

  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • Fatigue

Other less common symptoms may include:

  • muscle aches and pain
  • nasal congestion
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • chills, which are sometimes accompanied by frequent shaking
  • headache
  • loss of smell or taste

COVID-19 has more respiratory symptoms than a cold, which usually causes a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing. Also, a fever isn’t too common with a cold.

The flu has similar symptoms to COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is more likely to cause shortness of breath and other respiratory symptoms.

About 80 percent trusted sources of people recover from the symptoms of COVID-19 without needing any special medical treatment.

However, some people can become seriously ill after contracting COVID-19.

Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of developing more severe symptoms.

What should you do if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19? 

If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor. Let your doctor know:

You may need to be evaluated if:

  • your symptoms are severe
  • you’re an older adult
  • you have underlying health conditions
  • you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Your doctor will determine if you need testing and what type of treatment is best.

If your symptoms are mild and you have no underlying health conditions, your doctor may tell you to just stay home, rest, stay hydrated, and to avoid contact with other people.

If your symptoms get worse after a few days of rest, it’s important to get prompt medical care.


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