By now, almost all of us must be familiar with the common symptoms of COVID-19. Health professionals say that the signs of the disease may appear two to 14 days after exposure. The time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. The nine coronavirus symptoms that usually appear after exposure include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that those symptoms are emergency warning signs that one should seek immediate medical attention. Other signs that people should also worry about are trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face, and other severe symptoms that concern you.
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that as many as 98% of COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized had a fever; between 76% and 82% had a dry cough, and 11% to 44% reported exhaustion and fatigue. The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe.
Health experts explained that while some people may have only a few symptoms, some may have no symptoms at all. Those who are at higher risk of serious illness due to the virus are people who are older or who have existing chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, chronic kidney or liver disease, or who have compromised immune systems.
Recently, several reports have shown unusual symptoms in people who’ve been infected by COVID-19. There’s been an increasing number of children with a severe inflammatory syndrome that seemed to resemble Kawasaki disease, a rare childhood disease that causes inflammation of blood vessels and can lead to heart damage. Health experts believe that this linked with COVID-19. Some signs include gastrointestinal symptoms (stomachache, vomiting and/or diarrhea) and skin rashes (often reddish in color).
As the pandemic continues to impact many countries, case reports revealed unusual symptoms linked to COVID-19.
Dr. Kanade Shinkai, professor of dermatology at University of California, San Francisco, said that it’s not unusual to see skin rashes in someone with a viral infection. Known examples of these are chickenpox or herpes. Recently, health experts found out that COVID-19 is revealing itself through skin problems.
“COVID toes,” for instance, have been reported in patients in several countries. These rashes in their toes resemble chilblains, which can take the form of red or purple lesions. The European Journal of Pediatric Dermatology reported an “epidemic” of cases among children and adolescents in Italy. According to Time, an American weekly news magazine and news website, the rashes might’ve appeared for two reasons. Either the invading virus is directly targeting the skin or the lesions are a byproduct of an aggressive immune system fighting mightily against an intruding microbe.
“What’s unclear about COVID-19 is whether the rashes associated with infection are specific to the virus, meaning there is actual virus in the skin, or if they are a manifestation of the immune system reacting to the virus that is elsewhere in the body,” Shinkai said.
Delirium, Dizziness, or Muscle Weakness
Researchers in JAMA Neurology recently reported that confusion, delirium, and other neurological symptoms have also been observed in some people infected with COVID-19. In the earlier part of the infection, milder neurological symptoms such as loss of taste or smell, headache, dizziness, or muscle weakness may also appear. More severe neurological symptoms may develop later on.
“I have seen patients presenting with confusion and altered mental status. Some have developed [brain inflammation] requiring admission for close neurologic monitoring,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said.
The researchers found out that about 36.4% of coronavirus patients in China have experienced neurological symptoms such as dizziness or headaches, increasing to 45.5% in those with severe coronavirus infections. Prof. Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, said that this may be a consequence of the disease’s severity rather than a distinct new concern.
Many scientists have observed a correlation between COVID-19 infection and dangerous blood clots, even among patients who wouldn’t usually be at risk. Health experts are baffled by the extent of blood clotting caused by the disease since the clotting is manifesting itself in some pretty abnormal ways. This includes hundreds of microclots that form in the bloodstream, collect in lungs, and clog dialysis machines used to treat kidney disorders.
According to National Geographic, an American pay television network and flagship channel that is owned by National Geographic Partners, a German physician named Rudolf Virchow detailed three reasons why abnormal blood clots occur. This happens if the inner lining of blood vessels becomes injured, perhaps due to an infection; if the blood flow becomes stagnant, clots can form, and if vessels develop a tendency to become cluttered with platelets or other circulating proteins that repair wounds.
Health experts explained that due to abnormal clots, COVID-19 patients without any cardiac risk factors are suffering from strokes. According to TheScientist.com, a publication dedicated to covering a wide range of topics central to the study of cell and molecular development, a recent report conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine described five patients between the ages of 33 and 49 in New York City who were admitted to the hospital suffering severe strokes in conjunction with COVID-19. However, this isn’t entirely surprising since strokes were linked during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS.
“Almost all the [neurological] things we’re seeing now with COVID-19 are things you might have predicted would have happened,” Kenneth Tyler, the chairman of the department of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, said.
Reports also revealed that most of the strokes reported with COVID-19 have been “ischemic,” which means a clot plugs one of the vessels supplying blood to the brain. Adam Cuker, an associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said that it’s still not known how common strokes and clotting might be among COVID-19 patients because most of the observations have been confined to the ICU. “Is this just a small number of cases getting a lot of attention, or is this actually a more common problem that rises to the level of a public health issue?” he asked.