COVID-19: Six New Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have officially designated six new symptoms as potential COVID-19 warning signs. This follows several weeks of anecdotal reporting on additional, often non-respiratory, symptoms.


When COVID-19 first began to spread around the globe, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) identified just three symptoms: shortness of breath, fever, and a dry cough. Early data from several studies has led to widespread speculation about additional symptoms. Perhaps most notably, these included anosmia and ageusia (the loss of taste and smell).

CDC now includes “new loss of taste or smell” (at least 10% of Americans over 40 already experience some) as one of 9 potential symptoms. Other new additions include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. They have also updated “shortness of breath” to read, “shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.” With nearly 3 million reported infections worldwide, global health experts hope that a broader approach to addressing COVID-19 will make it easier for symptomatic individuals to receive tests and treatment.


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The updated list does not include gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. A number of patients around the globe have reported these symptoms, including at least 20% of patients in a Chinese study. Google has updated its own COVID-19 guide to reflect these findings. They note that, on average, symptoms of any sort take about 6 days to appear. The site echoes the WHO and CDC in reminding readers that symptoms can also emerge within two days or take as long as two weeks.

USA Today reports on a few additional potential symptoms. Children and young adults in particular, they report, have begun experiencing “purple or blue lesions on their toes.” Nicknamed “COVID toes,” the condition has so far baffled experts. Even more troubling, is the possibility of sudden strokes due to increased clotting. Dr. Thomas Oxley, a New York City neurosurgeon, remarks, “Our report shows a sevenfold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks.” He continues, “Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of COVID.”


Researchers are hard at work finding a cure for COVID-19 and recent weeks have seen some promising news. For the time being, however, the world’s best defense against the virus is regular hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, and safe social distancing. By complying with stay-at-home orders and other health regulations, we can each play a part in flattening the curve, overcoming COVID-19, and returning to business as usual.