10 coronavirus symptoms you may not be aware of, from malaise and dizziness to digestive issues
Crystal Cox/Business Insider
- As the novel coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, researchers and doctors are identifying more and more symptoms that characterize COVID-19.
- Most well-known are the dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath that signal a viral infection.
- However, the illness can also cause malaise, confusion, dizziness, headaches, and digestive issues. Here's what to look for and what to do about it.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
There's still a lot we don't know about the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic of a severe new disease called COVID-19. That includes what the symptoms are, and how varied they might be.The most common, distinctive symptoms of COVID-19 include a dry cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Though many people have no symptoms at all despite being highly contagious, studies suggest a significant proportion of people show other symptoms first, such as losing one's sense of smell and taste, or developing diarrhea. Advertisement
Here are 10 less-discussed symptoms of COVID-19.
Digestive issues like diarrhea and nausea may be a more common symptom than previously thought
Digestive problems have been increasingly linked to coronavirus infection, but research is mixed on how common a symptom it may be. About 1 in 10 coronavirus patients experience some sort of gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and nausea, Business Insider previously reported.A study in the Lancet reported that only 3% of Chinese patients experience diarrhea. And about 5% of people experience nausea, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
New research suggests that number may be higher than previously thought, and up to half of patients may have digestive issues along with respiratory symptoms. Usually, those patients would soon also develop more common symptoms like difficulty breathing, a fever, or a cough - only about 3% of cases studies had digestive symptoms alone, the researchers found.
Malaise and confusion are atypical symptomsIn a recent case report on a Washington nursing home, nearly a third of the residents tested positive for coronavirus, but half had no symptoms, and a few patients had unusual symptoms like malaise, a general sense of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness. In some cases, COVID-19 may present as malaise, disorientation, or exhaustion. This is among the most commonly reported atypical symptoms, often alongside other more frequently reported signs like cough or fever. Fatigue, which frequently accompanies other symptoms, is uncommonly reported in the absence of more prevalent symptoms. Advertisement
A global pandemic, quarantines, and social distancing can also cause added stress and anxiety. These and other psychological factors could result in similar symptoms, according to psychotherapist Ilene Cohen writing for Psychology Today, so it's important not to panic if you feel tired or uneasy.
Severe confusion or an inability to wake up or be alert can be a warning sign, according to the CDC, and people who experience those symptoms, especially with other critical signs like bluish lips, trouble breathing, or chest pain, should seek help immediately.
Chills or muscle aches occasionally accompany COVID-19Aches or chills can be a symptoms of many illnesses, including the flu, but they've been reported by coronavirus patients. It's not clear how prevalent these symptoms might be but about 11% of people studied reported chills, and 14% reported muscle aches, according to the WHO report.Advertisement
These could be early signs of more severe symptoms, or could be the only indication of a mild infection.
If you experience these, take additional precautions to self-isolate from other people, get plenty of rest and fluids, and contact a doctor, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Headaches or dizziness may also be a sign of viral infectionAccording to the study in the Lancet, about 8% of COVID-19 patients reported headaches. Advertisement
Dizziness has also been reported in some cases - frequent dizzy spells, or very severe or abrupt bouts of dizziness could indicate a more serious health risk, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Again, there are many possible explanations for such broad symptoms, so having one or more does not necessarily mean you're sick with COVID-19.The CDC offers a free online self-checker to help assess whether your symptoms and circumstances may indicate coronavirus infection. Advertisement
Runny nose is rarely a sign of coronavirus - it's more likely to indicate allergies or a cold
A minority of COVID-19 patients experience nasal congestion or a runny nose - less than 5% of people experience these symptoms, according to the WHO report. And sneezing isn't linked to the coronavirus at all. If you're suffering from either of these issues, it's much more likely to be another malady such as allergies or a cold.A sore throat occasionally accompanies coronavirus infection but again, it's more often a sign of a common flu or cold.
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
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