All 16 known and suspected coronavirus symptoms to be aware of
The number of symptoms to be wary of as COVID-19 continues to spread has grown, as one study released this week has pinpointed four new side-effects to look out for.
The research identified that of one million swab tests analysed, there are four symptoms that are most likely to be found in those who test positive for coronavirus, these are:
- A loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
These are alongside the three main symptoms that have been acknowledged from the beginning of the pandemic, which are a new persistent cough, a fever and a loss of sense of smell and taste.
The research was collated over a seven month period from June 2020 to January 2021 as part of the Imperial College London-led React study.
The study found that the more symptoms people showed, the more likely they were to test positive for COVID-19.
One interesting point surrounding the research suggested that if everyone who was showing the three main recognised symptoms were tested, it would still only pick up 50% of symptomatic infections.
But if those who had the four other symptoms were tested as well, it would identify 75% of all symptomatic infections.
Researchers from two different studies say there could now be 16 symptoms in total, according to The Mirror.
The Zoe Covid Symptom study found that most frequently reported six outside of the main recognised three are: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pains, diarrhoea, skin rash, and confusion and delirium in elderly people.
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Some GPs have sent a letter to the Government claiming that people with 'cold' symptoms such as a runny nose or nausea should get a Covid test.
Here are all 16 coronavirus symptoms reported so far.
The Three Official NHS Symptoms
A new, persistent cough
The NHS defines a new and persistent cough as a 'continuous' cough that makes someone cough a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
This symptom is one that is often reported more among the 18-65 age bracket rather than young children or the elderly.
According to the Imperial College-led study, children were less likely to show signs of the cough or fever compared with adults.
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A high fever
A drastic rise in temperature is often the first symptom to arise, as well as being the first one to disappear.
The NHS says a fever means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back, though they have advised you do not need to test your temperature.
A temperature of 38C is considered to be a fever in both children and adults.
According to the Zoe Covid app researchers, 40% of all age groups reported having a fever in the first seven days, which is why the NHS have recognised this symptom as one of the most vital to be wary of.
Loss of senses of taste and smell
This symptom can actually linger for weeks or even months after the virus has passed.
The NHS has said anyone who either cannot smell or taste anything, or things begin to smell or taste different, should get a test immediately.
Though a loss of taste or sense of smell symptoms can be experienced in other, more mild conditions such as a cold or sinus infection, experts have warned sudden loss of both senses is rare even with a blocked nose or sinuses.
This age demographic tends to report more loss of smell (55%) than the elderly or kids (Over 65's – 26% and under-18s – 21%).
Symptoms that have been officially recognised in the US
According to the Imperial College led-study, headaches are one of the few symptoms that seem more prominent among children rather than adults.
The Zoe Covid app research identified headaches were among the most common symptoms reported before a positive test.
However, a very small percentage of users suffered from purely headaches alone, with an even smaller percentage suffering from headaches and then going on to test positive for the virus.
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Fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms, with over 70% of COVID sufferers experiencing it.
However, the difficulty surrounding this symptom, along with headaches, is that it is a relatively common and benign everyday condition for many people.
Coronavirus is also not the only illness that can cause extreme fatigue, with the NHS explaining how a variety of viruses are known to trigger debilitating post-viral fatigue.
Fatigue alone, due to the common nature of it, may not be enough to prompt some to get tested.
A sore throat
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A sore throat is more common among 18-65 year olds, but much like previous symptoms mentioned, it can be tricky to determine whether a sore throat has been brought on by coronavirus or a more mild infection.
The Zoe Covid study discovered the symptom in more than half (52.6%) of people who tested positive.
What stands out about a sore throat as a symptom is how much later it appears as opposed to other symptoms, over 90% of sufferers had noticed a sore throat by the end of the first week of their symptoms, compared to three-quarters in the first three days.
The United States have recently updated their guidelines to include body pains as an officially recognised symptom of COVID-19.
Researchers at New York University identified a link between sore muscles and serious Covid-19 cases during an analysis of 53 patients in Wenzhou, China.
The NHS claims that joint and muscle pain following suffering from coronavirus is common because of how bed-ridden the virus leaves you, with almost all suffering from the virus so badly they are unable to move around or exercise.
As well as muscle ache, sufferers told the NHS they have experienced muscle numbness, and pins and needles or weakness in the arms or legs. These are all symptoms that should improve fairly quickly.
The Zoe Covid Study researchers identified that 32% of participants reported experiencing diarrhoea, with Dr Diana Gall explaining to the Express : "Digestion problems and changes in bowel habits – particularly looser stools and making more frequent trips to the toilet – are sometimes the first signs that you’re coming down with something, not just with this coronavirus.
"However, diarrhoea has been reported as an early symptom in patients who have later tested positive for Covid-19."
Shortness of breath
39% of COVID-19 sufferers aged between 18-65 reported a shortness of breath. Andy Hardwick, a 51 year old who battled coronavirus last year, said: "You don't want to talk. You get shortness of breath if you move around. You don't want to lift your head off the pillow."
"It does come in waves. You will feel a slight relief sometimes and then it will go."
There is a clear differentiation between shortness of breath and severe shortness of breath, as while some may recover at home, the most severe cases will require oxygen or ventilation support in ICU.
Reported but not official symptoms
Chills are one of the few symptoms that are commonly reported across all age brackets of sufferers, as health experts say chills often accompany a fever.
Chills were one of the symptoms identified by the Imperial College-led study, and though it is yet to be peer reviewed, Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme at Imperial, said: "These new findings suggest many people with Covid-19 won't be getting tested – and therefore won't be self-isolating – because their symptoms don't match those used in current public health guidance to help identify infected people.
"We understand that there is a need for clear testing criteria, and that including lots of symptoms which are commonly found in other illnesses like seasonal flu could risk people self-isolating unnecessarily.
"I hope that our findings on the most informative symptoms mean that the testing programme can take advantage of the most up-to-date evidence, helping to identify more infected people."
Skin rash and 'Covid fingers and toes'
One of the more bizarre symptoms of all those reported, 8.8% of those who tested positive reported a rash or skin discolouration on the fingers and toes.
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One in five people who reported a rash and were confirmed as being infected with coronavirus said the rash was their only symptom.
There are a number of different rash types, such as:
- Hive-type rash (urticaria): Sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin which can both appear and disappear quickly over hours and tend to be extremely itchy. It can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles, and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids. These rashes can present quite early on in the infection, but can also last a long time afterwards.
- ‘Prickly heat’ or chickenpox-type rash (erythemato-papular or erythemato-vesicular rash): Areas of small, itchy red bumps that can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly on the elbows and knees as well as the back of the hands and feet. The rash can linger for days or weeks.
- Covid fingers and toes (chilblains): Reddish and purplish bumps on the fingers or toes, which may be sore but not usually itchy. This type of rash is most specific to COVID-19, is more common in younger people with the disease, and tends to present itself some time after infection.
As of yet, skin rashes are still not identified by Public Health England as a COVID-19 symptom.
Loss of appetite
Though children are far less likely to report this as a symptom, The Zoe Covid app study found just under half (41%) of people who tested positive aged between 18-54 claimed they had stopped eating as a result of loss of appetite brought on by the infection.
Confusion or delirium
This symptom is one of the most common among the elderly, with the symptom proving so common among those over 65 that PHE have now added it to its list of symptoms to be wary of.
Delirium was first identified as having a potential link with COVID after a study of COVID-19 patient admissions to St Thomas' Hospital in London.
What exactly is delirium? The NHS define the condition as:
- Not being able to think or speak clearly or quickly
- Patient not knowing where they are (feeling disorientated)
- Struggling to pay attention or remember things
Seeing or hear things that aren't there (hallucinations)
Delirium can often affect patients who have required ventilation support, and have a build up of carbon dioxide in the body.
The NHS 111 advice service has described chest pains as like a 'tight band or heavy weight in or around the chest.'
When infected with coronavirus, this sensation can often come alongside a shortness of breath.
According to the Zoe Covid app, seven in twenty 18 to 65-year-olds reported chest pain after contracting the virus.
One third of those suffering with coronavirus and were studied by the Zoe Covid app reported a hoarse voice.
Nearly nine in ten reported the symptom by the end of the first week, suggesting it develops after a few days.
The condition can also alter how difficult the victim finds breathing.
Nearly 50 per cent of sufferers in a study analysing patients in China's Hubei province experienced gastro symptoms.
The Zoe Covid app found a quarter of all coronavirus sufferers endured this symptom, of which three quarters had it within the first week of infection.
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