The New COVID-19 Symptoms That Are Easy to Miss
According to the latest medical research, most people recover from COVID-19 within one or two weeks. Some people might feel mostly or totally better, but others may experience symptoms that linger for months. Those "long-haulers" were the focus of a recent study, in which 1,567 people described the symptoms they continue to experience. Respondents reported a wide range of symptoms, some quite typical of what we've heard about COVID-19 infection (fever, respiratory issues) and others rather unusual. Here are some of the weirdest long-term side effects the group reported. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 21 Subtle Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"Hot" Blood Rush
Most of us experience a "rush" as something pleasant. Not so for the 152 people in the study who reported this lingering, blood-boiling symptom.
Abnormally Low Body Temperature
Although fever is a much-discussed hallmark symptom of COVID-19, 91 "long-haulers" reported having an abnormally low body temperature after they had technically recovered.
Herpes, EBV or Trigeminal Neuralgia
Thirty-eight long-haulers reported an outbreak of herpes, EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) or trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition that affects a nerve which is extensive throughout the face, neck and head. Herpes and EBV are caused by the human herpesvirus, and stress or low immunity can exacerbate them. Nerve pain can result.
This condition, in which the cartilage in the rib cage becomes inflamed, was reported to be a long-term effect of COVID-19 by 98 people in the study. Costochondritis can cause pain upon deep breathing, coughing or even just moving, and it can range from mild to severe.
152 people in the study reported smelling something in the air that simply wasn't there. Researchers suspect neurological symptoms like this may be caused by the coronavirus's inflammatory effect on brain tissue.
Partial or Complete Lack of Smell or Taste
This curious symptom got a lot of publicity as an early sign of COVID-19. A different study by the CDC found that coronavirus patients who experience a loss of smell regain it by a median of eight days. But this study found that 460 people reported a lack of smell, and 375 people reported a lack of taste, as a longer-lasting COVID side effect.
423 people reported hair loss as a long-term effect of COVID-19—almost as many people who reported a loss of their sense of smell.
The study suggests that COVID-19 seems to affect the brain more than any other body system long-term, including the lungs—more people reported more lingering symptoms related to the brain than any other organ. One symptom reported by 41 people was a drastic change in personality.
"Floaters" Or Flashes of Light in Vision
249 people reported seeing "floaters" — little specks that float around — or flashes of light in their field of vision.
Forty-one people reported GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, a.k.a. acid reflux or heartburn) with excessive salivation as a long-term side effect. A few months after the pandemic began, scientists were surprised that some people were reporting stomach problems as their initial (and some times only) symptom of coronavirus infection.
Eighty people reported jaw pain as a lingering side effect of COVID-19.
Cracked or Dry Lips
Seventy-three patients reported cracked or dry lips as a long-term effect of coronavirus.
COVID-19 seems to spare no part of the body, no matter how big or small. Eighty people reported that the virus had left them with a painful scalp, and 52 reported a dry scalp or dandruff.
Thrush is a condition when a yeast-like organism called Candida albicans grows in thick white patches over the mouth, tongue and throat; 42 people in the study reported this as a long-term side effect. It could be due to COVID's suppression of the immune system, allowing the yeast—which is naturally present in all of our bodies—to grow unchecked.
An unexplained rash, which often appears on the toes, is a hallmark of coronavirus infection for some. Health experts aren't quite sure why. In this study, 59 people reported it.
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.