Unusual coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms: What are they?

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What are some of the unusual symptoms of COVID-19?

Answer From William F. Marshall, III M.D.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms. The most common are fever, dry cough and tiredness. Other symptoms include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, runny nose, headache, or chest pain. But COVID-19 can also cause symptoms you might not expect, including:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms. COVID-19 might cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea — either alone or with other COVID-19 symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms sometimes develop before a fever and respiratory symptoms.
  • Loss of smell or taste. A new loss of smell or taste — without nasal congestion — is a common early symptom of COVID-19. Research suggests that most changes in smell and taste often resolve in 30 days. In some people, however, moderate to severe changes in smell and taste can persist for 60 days or more.
  • Skin changes. The most common skin changes linked with mild to severe COVID-19 include a flat, red rash covered with small bumps, discolored areas on the fingers and toes (COVID toes) and hives.COVID toes appear to be more common in children and young adults. Swelling or discoloration can develop on one or several toes or fingers. Blisters, itchiness, rough skin, pain or painful raised bumps can occur. A small amount of pus might develop under the skin. The symptom can last 10 to 14 days or for months. However, swollen, discolored fingers or toes could also be chilblains, an inflammatory skin condition. Chilblains develop in response to repeated exposure to cold air.
  • Confusion. Severe confusion (delirium) might be the main or only symptom of COVID-19 in older people. This COVID-19 symptom is linked with a high risk for poor outcomes, including death.
  • Eye problems. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) can be a symptom of COVID-19. Research suggests that the most common eye problems linked to COVID-19 are light sensitivity, sore eyes and itchy eyes.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from mild to severe. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor.

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William F. Marshall, III M.D.