- Experts are still learning the symptoms of the infection.
- Loss of smell, dizziness, and rash are among the symptoms of COVID-19 that people may miss.
- Cardiovascular and blood clotting issues are also now becoming a problem for some people with the disease.
COVID-19 has gained international notoriety as a respiratory infection that may cause fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
But those aren’t the only symptoms that have been linked to the new coronavirus disease.
Some people with COVID-19 have presented with less typical symptoms, including nausea, diarrhea, delirium, chickenpox-like lesions, and more.
“Respiratory symptoms tend to be the most common, obviously, but we’ve also seen symptoms that involve other organ systems,” Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, an emergency physician and director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, told Healthline.
People with atypical symptoms of the infection may develop more classic symptoms as well, such as fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and trouble breathing.
However, others may develop only atypical symptoms — and a portion of people who contract the virus don’t develop any noticeable symptoms at all.
“The expression of viral infection has been very, very wide,” Cioe-Pena said.
“There are people that are asymptomatic carriers, and their bodies are doing a really good job containing it. And then there are other people who obviously have very systemic and bad symptoms. And then everyone in between,” he explained.
Learning about some less common symptoms may help you recognize COVID-19 if you or someone close to you develops it.
Loss of taste or smell
Earlier this month, the CDC added “new loss of taste or smell” to its list of COVID-19 symptoms.
When scientists at the University of California, San Diego studied responses from 59 people with COVID-19, they found that more than two-thirds of them reported loss of taste or smell.
Your sense of taste or smell may also be disrupted by other conditions, such as the flu or seasonal allergies. But in some cases, such sensory changes may be a warning sign of COVID-19.
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
So far, the CDC hasn’t added nausea or other digestive complaints to its list of COVID-19 symptoms. However, early research suggests gastrointestinal distress is relatively common in people with COVID-19.
Recently, the authors of a new study from Stanford Medicine reviewed the medical records of 116 people who had tested positive for COVID-19.
They found that nearly one-third had digestive symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Rash, hives, or chickenpox-like lesions
When dermatologists in Lombardy, Italy, assessed 88 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, they found roughly 20 percent had skin symptoms.
Those skin symptoms consisted of a red rash, widespread hives, or chickenpox-like lesions.
“Patients may present with skin lesions on their feet or toes or red rashes that may resemble a skin infection at first glance,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Healthline.
“Many of these rashes may represent superficial clotting or even bleed in the skin or extremities,” Glatter said.
Delirium, dizziness, or muscle weakness
Confusion, delirium, and other neurological symptoms have also been observed in some people with COVID-19, report researchers in JAMA Neurology.
Milder neurological symptoms, such as loss of taste or smell, headache, dizziness, or muscle weakness, may appear early in the illness. More severe neurological symptoms may develop later on.
“I have seen patients presenting with confusion and altered mental status,” Glatter told Healthline.
“Some have developed [brain inflammation] requiring admission for close neurologic monitoring,” he added.
COVID-19 may raise the risk of abnormal blood clotting, early reports suggest.
When clots form in small blood vessels in the feet or other extremities, it can cause minor skin symptoms.
When clots occur in the lungs, heart, or brain, it can cause more serious complications, such as pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
“Clotting, in general, seems to be a significant issue,” Dr. Maxine Dexter, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Kaiser Permanente, told Healthline.
“We are hearing reports from our ER colleagues about patients presenting with stroke and heart attack symptoms that end up being COVID-positive,” she said.
If the virus enters cells in the heart, it can also cause a heart infection known as myocarditis. This infection may cause chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, and even heart failure.
“Some of the more sick people that we’ve seen have had these kinds of severe cardiac manifestations of coronavirus, and it’s been very tough to manage,” Cioe-Pena.