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5 unusual COVID-19 symptoms you need to know about

Posted December 28, 2020 by Shanu Agarwal, M.D.

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Fever, dry cough and shortness of breath are the telltale signs of a COVID-19 infection. But, those aren’t the only symptoms that have been linked to the virus. Other symptoms include chills, muscle or body aches, sore throat, fatigue and congestion.

As we learn more about this dangerous virus and its full range of symptoms, doctors are uncovering yet another set that are unusual and uncommon. From lesions to vomiting to deadly blood clots, doctors are discovering COVID-19 is not just a respiratory illness, but instead can be a full-body attack.

From head to “COVID toes,” Summa Health discusses 5 uncommon symptoms that you should be aware of that fall outside COVID-19’s hallmark symptoms. Learning about some of these unusual symptoms may help you better recognize COVID-19 if you or a loved one develops it.

Loss of taste or smell

You may have heard of this symptom: a new loss of taste or smell. It can occur even without nasal congestion and can last anywhere from nine to 14 days. Recent studies indicate this symptom may just be one of the strongest indicators of a COVID-19 infection.

Diarrhea and vomiting

Many doctors are finding gastrointestinal distress symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite, in COVID-19 patients of all ages. Some people may experience these symptoms prior to developing a fever and respiratory symptoms, and they may only last one day.

Doctors believe the symptoms are a result of the virus directly attacking the cells that line the GI tract. It could also be a result of the body’s fight against infection.

Lesions (aka “COVID toes”)

Painful lesions that resemble chilblains — an inflammatory rash caused by the skin’s exposure to cold, dry air — is another unusual symptom of COVID-19. The rash can cause toes to swell, burn and itch, and even turn them red or purple.

It’s been coined “COVID toes” because most occur on the feet, but it can occur on the hands, too.

Many patients are developing these toe lesions well after infection, and some patients are completely asymptomatic, except for COVID toes. COVID toes can be a manifestation of COVID and it’s best to contact your doctor if this occurs.

Rashes similar to hives or chickenpox have also been reported in people who test positive for COVID-19.

Confusion, headaches or dizziness

Confusion, dizziness, headaches and other neurological symptoms also can be indicators of COVID-19, especially in older adults with severe infections. The problem is these symptoms can easily be overlooked or dismissed as dementia common with aging.

Luckily, many of these neurological symptoms seem to diminish as the infection subsides.

Blood clots

A troubling symptom linked to COVID-19 is blood clots. Many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have died from blood clots or the destruction they cause, such as stroke, heart attack or lung damage.

If you’re experiencing pain, redness or swelling in an area, it could be due to a blood clot. Confusion, dizziness or sudden numbness in the face, arms or legs are signs of a stroke. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 or head to the Emergency Room immediately for medical attention.

As we continue to uncover more and more about this dangerous virus, the safety message has remained the same. The best ways to reduce your risk for contracting COVID-19 are to properly and frequently wash your hands, social distance and always wear a mask when you leave the house. Until we have a vaccine, these safety measures are critical and the best defense we have against the virus.

Learn more about COVID-19


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