You’re already on the lookout for the obvious COVID-19 symptoms: fever, cough, difficulty breathing. But what if the signs that you’ve been infected with the virus aren’t as obvious as these big ones? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is constantly releasing new information about other symptoms that may be related to the virus.
Some of them are rare and isolated while some are more common and seen in a majority of COVID-19 patients. Learn about these 7 hidden symptoms that you may have coronavirus so you don’t miss the warning signs that you might be infected.
Splitting headache might just mean you’re a little dehydrated but it could also be a sneaky sign that you have COVID-19. According to Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins Health System, a headache may be an early warning sign that you’ve already contracted the virus.
A mild headache may become more intense over the next five to seven days and other more obvious symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever and cough, may also then begin to appear. If you have a mild headache that goes away, it may not be a red flag. However, if your headache gains intensity and is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be coronavirus.
If you suddenly can’t smell your morning coffee brewing or taste that chocolate you’ve been saving for a treat, it could be a sign of coronavirus. The CDC now lists a loss of smell (called anosmia) and a loss of taste (called ageusia) as symptoms of the virus. A study published in the International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology found that seven out of 10 coronavirus patients reported a loss in taste and smell.
According to Stanford Medicine, viruses attack our cranial nerves in our head and neck, which are related to smell. These viruses can also cause inflammation around the nerve and nasal lining, which may inhibit our sense of smell. These nerves are directly related to your sense of taste, so it’s also affected by this inflammation and attack on the cranial nerves.
Instead of focusing solely on your cough when figuring out if you have COVID-19, it’s also important to consider your digestive system. If you’re having gastrointestinal problems, it could also be a sign that you have the virus.
A study published in Gastroenterology examined 116 patients diagnosed with coronavirus and their symptoms. 31.9% of these patients had gastrointestinal problems related to the virus and most of them described these symptoms as mild. 22% experienced a loss in appetite, 12% had diarrhea, and 22% dealt with nausea and vomiting. If you’re experiencing unexplained gastrointestinal problems, it may be a sign that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
COVID-19 makes your body weak and it’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re working hard to fight off a virus you don’t even know you have. When your body is busy and not getting the hydration it needs, dizziness upon standing or fainting while walking could occur. This hidden symptom is more likely to occur in elderly patients or those with other underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
According to Dr. Camille Vaughan from Emory University, “With a lot of conditions, older adults don’t present in a typical way, and we’re seeing that with COVID-19 as well.” Older bodies respond differently to infection and illness, which may explain this hidden symptom of the virus.
Body shakes and chills are a common symptom of many types of viruses and illnesses, and is usually a telltale sign that you have a fever. Referred to as “rigor,” shaking and repeated chills occur when you have a virus like COVID-19 because your body is attempting to regulate its temperature. Your body pushes blood to your extremities to preserve your heat. To continue regulating your temperature, your muscles shake as your body tries to generate heat.
According to Dr. Emily Spivak, MD from the University of Utah Health, “Rigor is a sudden feeling of cold with shivering accompanied by a rise in temperature. A true rigor is unlikely to happen without a fever.” If you’re experiencing shaking and chills, take your temperature. If you have a fever, it’s a sign you have a virus and that virus could be COVID-19.
If you’re monitoring whether or not you’ve been infected with coronavirus, pay attention to your skin. According to Dr. Esther Freeman from Massachusetts General Hospital, it’s common for viruses to cause skin irritation, hives, or rashes.
Viruses that cause measles or chickenpox are easily diagnosed due to skin rashes and irritations. While COVID-19 isn’t solely diagnosed by these rashes, it can be a sign that you have the virus. Check yourself for other symptoms and call your doctor if you suspect COVID-19. Also, don’t worry. Dr. Freeman confirms that these rashes and irritations go away for good after you recover from the virus. That includes an irritation on your toes, dubbed “COVID toes.”
According to the CDC, if you experience confusion or the inability to move suddenly, it’s an emergency warning sign of COVID-19 and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. This symptom of the virus is most common in senior patients as their bodies may find it harder to fight off the fever or inflammation they experience when infected.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined 40 patients who were admitted to the hospital and later diagnosed with coronavirus. Out of these 40 patients, 26 of them reported or were observed experiencing confusion. If you feel disoriented, confused, or suddenly can’t move, it could be a hidden sign of COVID-19. Get medical help immediately.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.