United Church of Christ – Wider Church Ministries
Humanitarian Development Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Daily Briefing
Barbara T. Baylor, MPH – Temporary Health Liaison
List of COVID-19 symptoms expands
Scientists and public health experts are learning more about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) every day. New symptoms are appearing, which can confuse the public about what to look for in determining if they might have the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can become infected with COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious symptoms and complications.
Young people and children may also become infected with the virus and can get sick enough to require hospitalization. People of any age should take preventive health measures including frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a mask when going out in public to help protect themselves and to reduce the chances of spreading the infection to others.
Today’s brief will reacquaint the reader with some basic information about the virus and explore emerging symptoms of COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. There are many kinds of coronaviruses. Some of them can cause colds or other mild respiratory (nose, throat, lung) illnesses. COVID-19 is the official name of the novel (new) coronavirus given by the World Health Organization (WHO).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
While fever, cough and shortness of breath are significant in most all COVID-19 cases, there are additional symptoms of the virus, some that are very much like a cold or the flu. Here is a review of possible symptoms of COVID-19.
1. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is not usually an early symptom of COVID-19, but it is the most serious. It can occur on its own, without a cough. If your chest becomes tight or you begin to feel as if you cannot breathe deeply enough to fill your lungs with air, contact your health provider.
Fever is a key sign of COVID-19. For most children and adults, a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) and over is of concern. (Some people can have a core body temperature lower or higher than the typical 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).)
3. Dry cough
A dry cough that you feel deep in your chest is another symptom. A report by the World Health Organization in February found that more than one-third of 55,924 people with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 had coughed up sputum, a thick mucus sometimes called phlegm, from their lungs.
4. Chills and body aches
Some may have no chills or body aches at all. Others may experience milder flu-like chills, fatigue and achy joints and muscles, which can make it difficult to know if it's flu or coronavirus that's to blame. One possible sign that you might have COVID-19 is if your symptoms don't improve after a week or so but worsen.
5. Digestive issues
As more research on survivors becomes available, digestive or stomach GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms and diarrhea, often without fever, have been recognized as potential symptoms of COVID-19.
6. Pink eye
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as Pink Eye, is a highly contagious condition when caused by a virus. A pink or red eye could be one more sign that you should call your doctor if you also have other telltale symptoms of COVID-19.
8. Loss of smell and taste
Anosmia, a loss of smell and taste, is emerging as one of the possible early signs of COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. If you believe you might be suffering from loss of smell or taste, try using the "jellybean test" developed by the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida.
For some people, extreme fatigue can be an early sign of the novel coronavirus. The WHO report found nearly 40 percent of the close to 6,000 people with laboratory-confirmed cases experienced fatigue and lethargy. Fatigue, exhaustion and lack of energy may continue long after the virus is gone.
10. Headache, sore throat, congestion
The WHO reports that these are not the most common signs of the disease. If you have symptoms that are like a cold or flu, seek advice from your health care provider, especially if you are over age 60.
11. Memory loss and brain fog
The Daily Express has reported that memory fog, memory loss, fatigue, tiredness, brain fog or mental fatigue and an inability to arise after sleeping have been identified by health providers as potential symptoms of a COVID-19 infection. Although the CDC and WHO have not yet officially declared them as COVID-19 symptoms, these phenomena have been reported by many patients with the infection.
12. Myalgia and arthralgia
WHO has warned that myalgia – muscle aches and pain and arthralgia – joint stiffness, aches and inflammation around the joint - are now seen as symptoms of COVID-19.
13. Brain function
COVID-19 appears to affect brain function in some people including muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.
Editor's Note: The information shared in the UCC COVID-19 Daily Briefing should not be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. If you think you might have COVID-19, contact your medical provider.
Johns Hopkins Medicine: What is coronavirus?
World Health Organization: Coronavirus
CDC: Symptoms of Coronavirus
World Health Organization names the new coronavirus: COVID-19