Can Congestion Be the Only Symptom of COVID-19?

Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2022
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Congestion can be the only symptom of COVID-19 in some cases.

Yes, congestion can be the only symptom of COVID-19 in some cases. The disease can present with a variety of symptoms that may range from mild to severe.

The symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

If you have any of these symptoms or if you have been exposed to a case of COVID-19, you must contact your healthcare provider.

Immediate medical attention must be sought in case of:

How long do COVID-19 symptoms take to appear?

The symptoms of COVID-19 may appear anywhere between 2 and 14 days after exposure to the infection. Rarely, symptoms may appear after 14 days of infection. The period between the exposure to the infection and the appearance of the first symptom is called the incubation period.

Many people do not exhibit any symptoms (remain asymptomatic). People infected with COVID-19 who do not show any symptoms are called asymptomatic carriers because they can transmit the infection to others.

According to studies done so far, Omicron, the latest coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) variant, generally has a shorter incubation period. Symptoms usually appear within three days of exposure to the infection. More studies are underway to understand more accurately the incubation period of Omicron.

How long should you isolate if you have COVID-19?

According to the latest guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate for five days.

If a person is asymptomatic or their symptoms are going away (which means they had no fever for 24 hours), they must follow the five-day isolation with another five days of wearing a proper face mask when around other people. This helps minimize the risk of infection.

The isolation period has been shortened because studies revealed that the infection transmission risk is highest in one to two days before and two to three days after the symptoms appear.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

These two terms have become popular since the emergence of COVID-19. Both isolation and quarantine help minimize the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

  • Isolation refers to the measure taken to prevent the spread of infection after the person is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Quarantine means the behavioral practices in a person who has been exposed to (and not diagnosed with) COVID-19.

Thus, quarantine is done for a healthy person who has been exposed to infection, whereas isolation is done for a sick person diagnosed with the infection.

People who have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. They, however, must wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days following the exposure. 

Unvaccinated individuals or those who did not receive a booster and received their second mRNA vaccine dose more than six months back or the J&J vaccine more than two months back must quarantine for five days. This should be followed by proper mask use for the next five days. If they cannot quarantine for five days, they must wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days when around people.

Traveling or being around high-risk people must be avoided during these 10 days. A test for COVID-19 must be done as soon as symptoms appear. It is advisable to get a test done on the fifth day after the exposure.

Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of COVID-19.