New COVID-19 symptoms
New symptoms of COVID-19 seem to appear every day, with the recent addition of six symptoms to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list. But even the CDC definition doesn’t include the entire spectrum of symptoms healthcare workers are seeing, says infectious diseases specialist, Dr William Schaffner. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are still mainly respiratory – cough and shortness of breath, along with a fever – but it doesn’t stop there.
“There’s a profound inflammatory response going on everywhere in the body,” explains Dr Matthew G. Heinz. “It’s not just affecting one particular organ system.”
Signs of COVID-19 are appearing all over the body. Because the virus is so new, research is still preliminary, but this is what is known so far about some of the more troubling symptoms and complications.
Loss of smell or taste
This symptom appears on the updated CDC list of COVID-19 symptoms. It also happens with some other viruses, says Dr Aaron Glatt, but more so with the new coronavirus.
Several studies have documented this, including one published in April 2020 in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology (IFAR), which found that 68 per cent of COVID-19 patients (40 out of the 59) reported losing their sense of smell. A total of 71 per cent reported no taste, as compared with 16 per cent and 17 per cent of people who had tested negative. The symptom tends to appear early in the disease, says Dr Heinz, and patients tend to be younger, according to an April 2020 study published in the European Journal of Neurology. The good news, according to another April 2020 study in the IFAR, is that people who lose their sense of taste and smell often have milder illness.
This symptom looks a lot like chilblains, which is redness, swelling, and itching of the toes (or fingers) in cold weather. Unlike chilblains, though, COVID toes are occurring in warmer weather, notes an April 2020 report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Like losing your sense of taste and smell, COVID toes seem to be an early symptom of the virus. And, says Dr Heinz, “is associated with milder symptoms or may be the only symptom.” It also tends to appear in younger people. It’s not clear what causes this symptom but, adds Dr Schaffner, it may have to do with clotting in the smaller blood vessels.