Actress and writer Lena Dunham has opened up about her excruciating experience with coronavirus.

The creator of hit dramedy Girls revealed she fell ill with Covid-19 in mid-March, with aching joints the first symptom.

But Dunham, who suffers from a chronic disease that affects the joints and skin, said she was initially unable to distinguish the pain from her existing illness.

The pain was soon joined by an "impossible, crushing fatigue," the 34-year-old said, adding that she also had a fever.

"Suddenly my body simply . . . revolted," she wrote in a lengthy post on Instagram. "The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn't seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn't tolerate loud noises.

"I couldn't sleep but I couldn't wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes.

"A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs. This went on for 21 days . . . that blended together like a rave gone wrong."

Lena Dunham with the Girls

Dunham said she was fortunate to have a doctor on hand to offer regular advice, meaning she never had to go to hospital. She was forced to isolate, describing the experience as intensely lonely.

After a month, Dunham said she tested negative for Covid-19 but the symptoms did not fade.

Her hands and feet were swollen, she suffered from severe fatigue and a constant migraine. Dunham's arthritis flared and she had "weirder symptoms that I'll keep to myself".

Dunham said she had been reluctant to speak out and did not want to "unnecessarily add my voice to a noisy landscape on such a challenging topic".

The US-born star finished the post by writing that the pandemic is "the biggest deal in our country and in the world right now".

Dunham urged people to "take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbours".

She is the latest celebrity to discuss their experience with the fatal illness.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was among the first and has been strident in his calls for people to wear masks, in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.