The turn of events and rollout of effective Covid vaccines has numerous Americans trusting that they will before long be shielded from a possibly destructive brush with COVID-19.

But for the millions who have already contracted and survived COVID, the question of how long their natural immunity will keep them safe has been the subject of major scientific debate. Now, new research has found that having certain symptoms during the course of your illness could be a sign that you’re more likely to have longer, “persistent” immunity to COVID. Read on to see which symptoms could keep you immune for longer, and for more on signs you could be ill, check out This Strange Pain Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

The new study out of the University of Wisconsin, which was published as a pre-print on Jan. 6 and has not yet been peer-reviewed, analyzed blood tests from 113 patients infected with coronavirus five weeks after recovering from their illness and then again three months after their sickness. The researchers set out to determine the concentration level of antibodies circulating in their systems at both intervals. The findings corroborated other studies’ results that patients who are seniors, male, and/or those who fell severely ill saw higher concentrations of antibodies, which is a key indicator of immunity. But the research also “demonstrated for the first time that [specific] COVID-19 symptoms…correlated consistently with higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels” through at least three months.

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Overall, the research found that while “hospitalized subjects had higher antibody levels than non-hospitalized subjects.” But for patients who weren’t hospitalized, symptoms led to varying levels of antibodies, with “cough, body aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting” only correlating to some antibodies present, and “chills, shortness of breath, chest tightness, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, and runny or stuffed nose” correlating to “no or almost [no]” antibodies.

Still, the study authors point out that more research needs to be done on the subject, writing “future work is needed to determine which antibody titers [concentrations] are protective against re-infection and how long those [concentrations] last.”

So which symptoms generated the most “persistent” levels of antibodies? Keep reading to find out, and for more on what could put you on course for a serious illness, check out If You Have This Blood Type, You’re at a High Risk of Severe COVID.

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Ill young man is taking temperature and coughing in his bed.
Ill young man is taking temperature and coughing in his bed.

Running a high temperature is usually a sign your body is at work fighting off an infection. But in the case of COVID, it could also be a sign that your immune response is generating more antibodies.

“Fever…[is] a sign of a systemic inflammatory response, suggesting that such an inflammatory response may be key for developing a strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response,” the study authors wrote. And to know what constitutes a fever, check out Your “Normal” Temperature Is Not Actually 98.6 Degrees, Doctors Warn.


Low appetite

elderly woman refusing to eat meal
elderly woman refusing to eat meal

While being sick rarely makes people ravenous, feeling a drop in appetite falls in line with fever as a sign of “systemic inflammatory response,” according to the study’s authors. This means your lack of hunger might signal a major immune response taking place in your body. And for more on serious signs to beware of, check out If You Have One of These COVID Symptoms, the CDC Says to Call 911.




Hand opens the door to the bathroom
Hand opens the door to the bathroom

While stomach issues are a well-known symptom of potentially severe COVID, the study authors note that they “did not see increased diarrhea” in hospitalized patients. What the research did find, however, is that the symptom did appear in non-hospitalized patients with higher antibody responses.

The study authors hypothesize that the symptom may be “a marker of severe disease,” but also speculate that suffering from it during COVID could indicate that the virus has infected the gastrointestinal system, which would “directly enhance the antibody response, perhaps by activating inflammatory cells throughout the gut.” And for regular COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


Abdominal pain

Woman with stomach pain
Woman with stomach pain

The study’s researchers attribute abdominal pain to the same infection that causes diarrhea in COVID patients. Still, researchers admit that more research on the correlation is needed. And for more on this symptom, check out This Is How to Tell If Your Upset Stomach Is COVID, Doctors Say.

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