Public health experts have consistently said that shortness of breath, fever and cough are the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus. But now that the virus has been circulating in the U.S. for several weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its guidance for identifying COVID-19.
On the CDC website, the list of symptoms now includes six new warning signs to look out for:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
"People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported — ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness," the CDC said on its site. "These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus."
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The agency also calls out symptoms that could indicate more severe illness requiring immediate medical attention. These include: trouble breathing, persistent pain or chest pressure, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face. It cautions, though, that this list is not all inclusive and advises individuals to contact their medical providers to learn what symptoms they should be concerned about for their own health.
The coronavirus has been especially difficult to track at least in part because of its complex symptoms. While cough and fever are still the quintessential signs, others have appeared with some regularity.
TODAY first reported in late March that a loss of taste or smell could be a sign of COVID-19 after the American Academy of Otolaryngology announced it had "rapidly accumulating" anecdotal evidence. Nausea and diarrhea also seem common in people with mild illness, and an upset stomach is often the first or only symptom for these individuals.
Conjunctivitis, aka pink eye, may occur in 1-3% of infected people, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has said, and coughing blood has come up as an unusual but logical extension of the lung problems that the virus causes.
COVID-19 likely affects the skin, too, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, even though these possible symptoms aren't on the CDC's list. Some patients have reported a tingling feeling on skin, also described as "fizzing" and "buzzing," and rashes are a common side effect of viral infections.
Dermatologists and podiatrists are also investigating another possible symptom known as COVID toes. It looks like red or purple discoloration, inflammation and ulcerations on the hands and feet, and it can show up before or instead of respiratory signs.
As more and more people experience COVID-19, doctors are gaining further knowledge of the disease. While it might seem like a new symptom pops up every other day, raising awareness of what to look out for can help to slow the spread of this disease.