What are some of the unusual symptoms of the new coronavirus?

Answer From William F. Marshall, III M.D.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms. The most common are fever, dry cough and tiredness. Other symptoms include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, headache, or chest pain. But COVID-19 can also cause symptoms you might not expect, including:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms. COVID-19 might cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms, including a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms might only last one day. Some people with COVID-19 have diarrhea and nausea prior to developing fever and respiratory symptoms.
  • Loss of smell or taste. COVID-19 might cause a new loss of smell or taste — without nasal congestion. This typically lasts nine to 14 days. Some research suggests that loss of smell or taste might be an early predictor of COVID-19.
  • Skin changes. Younger people with less severe COVID-19 might develop painful, itchy lesions on their hands and feet that resemble chilblains, an inflammatory skin condition. Sometimes called COVID toes, this symptom typically lasts about 12 days. However, new research suggests that these lesions might simply be chilblains caused by sedentary behavior and failure to wear warm footwear during lockdowns, rather than by COVID-19.
  • Confusion. COVID-19 also has been reported to cause confusion in older people, especially those with severe infections.
  • Eye problems. COVID-19 might cause eye problems such as enlarged, red blood vessels, swollen eyelids, excessive watering and increased discharge. The infection also might cause light sensitivity and irritation. These symptoms are more common in people with severe infections.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from mild to severe. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor.


William F. Marshall, III M.D.

June 30, 2020 See more Expert Answers

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