According to a story from Vox, while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health authorities have reported the primary symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19 to be a dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, some patients that test positive for the disease are experiencing different symptoms altogether, further complicating the efforts to treat and diagnose patients. These symptoms generally appear within two to 14 days following transmission.
Unusual Symptoms or None At All
Some patients have seen gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting. Meanwhile, others have reported losing their sense of smell and taste. Some scientists now believe that as many as 25 percent of people with the virus may not experience symptoms at all. Patients are also experiencing symptoms that overlap with the flu and other more typical ailments.
An analysis of 55,000 cases from China identified dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, and sputum production as the most common symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19. However, even with this large sample size, these patients may not have actually been a good representation of all the patients that were infected. It is possible that patients with mild symptoms that may have been different were not included.
Another study of 204 patients found that abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea appeared in more than half of them. Doctors from the US have also described seizures and mental confusion appearing in others, particularly older patients. It could be that this variability is partially explained by how the virus affects patients with pre-existing comorbidities. Certain subsets of people could be affected in different ways, as a degree of variability is also seen in the flu.
Loss of taste and smell has also been reported by some patients, including Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz basketball team. In fact, a symptom tracker app in the UK found this to be the strongest association to a positive diagnosis.
The most important step into understanding the range of ways that COVID-19 can present is to test as many people as possible, but unfortunately the US continues to lag behind in the number of tests that have been conducted and have been made available. It is likely that the majority of infected people haven’t been tested, and therefore haven’t been added to official tallies.
If you begin feeling any signs of potential illness, the best thing you can do is maintain self-quarantine in your home.