COVID Symptoms No One Talks About But Should
We know the common COVID-19 symptoms at this point—cough, sore throat, fatigue, and so on. But some symptoms are unusual, and may continue for months. "If you have long COVID symptoms, you should seek care," says Devang Sanghavi, MD. "As we have seen in a lot of these surveys and studies about post-COVID syndrome is that usually this condition doesn't come with just one symptom—there's a cluster of symptoms." Here are some unusual COVID symptoms people are not talking about—but should be. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Physicians are reporting seeing people with long term gastrointestinal issues including bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. "While we are not sure yet, there are several possible ways the COVID-19 infection could cause gastrointestinal problems," says Greg Vanichkachorn, MD, director of Mayo Clinic's COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program. "For example, the lining of the gut has a large amount of the receptors that the SARS-COV2 virus uses to invade cells. The general inflammation caused by the infection can also disrupt the normal bacteria that live in the gut and stimulate some of the gastrointestinal system's nerves."
Long-term erectile dysfunction is a concerning symptom of long COVID. "I have seen young, healthy men, as well as older men with other medical problems, develop erectile dysfunction after contracting COVID-19," says urologist Amarnath Rambhatla, MD. "But men who are older might be at an increased risk for developing erectile dysfunction due to underlying medical problems. There are a few other reasons why older men could be at an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction after COVID-19: Testosterone levels decrease as we age, and we know that testosterone is needed for normal erectile function. When you're older, you are also more likely to experience an increased inflammatory response to COVID-19."
Personality Changes and Rage
If you don't feel like yourself since getting COVID, you're not alone—there are reports of severe personality changes post-COVID, specifically related to anger and rage issues. "In advanced imaging — especially in some of our studies — we see changes in blood flow, blood permeability, and brain metabolism that overlap with areas responsible for these areas of the personality," says neurologist Anna Nordvig, MD. "Neuropsychological testing is something we also send some patients for, to help diagnose the [personality] change. This is still under study."
Depression and Anxiety
The pandemic has (understandably) exacerbated mental health conditions for many people. "The reality is our brains don't exist in a bubble," says Heather Murray, MD, MPH. "So if you have systemic inflammation problems or viral syndromes that are affecting other organs, it makes sense that they would also affect the brain and cause other psychological symptoms. It's unfortunately something that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, for example, have experienced for years… The reality is that depression is very common, and a lot of people with COVID have a history of depression. They're going through a horrible time of their life, not to mention society is going through a horrible time."
Losing hair can be a distressing side effect of COVID. "The hair loss that occurs after COVID-19 infection occurs because of overactive inflammation in the body," says dermatologist Alexis Young, MD. "The inflammation can cause a shift in the hair cycle. Hair loss after a stressful situation is not unusual. People can experience hair loss after childbirth or a major surgery, and we're now seeing the same results after COVID-19 infection in some people."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.