COVID Symptoms that cause confusion

Author: Flavia Nogueira

You’ve checked your temperature and there is no fever, you’re breathing normally and not coughing. You’re not infected with the new coronavirus, right? Not necessarily.


According to Healthline, experts are still establishing all the symptoms associated with the pandemic and some people with COVID-19 have presented more unusual symptoms previously not thought to be related. A few less typical symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, delirium and even chickenpox-like lesions.


The World Health Organization (WHO) lists the common symptoms for COVID-19 as fever, dry cough and tiredness. But now also has a long list of less common symptoms:


  • Aches and pains

  • Nasal congestion

  • Sore throat

  • Diarrhoea

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Headache

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • A rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes


But before panicking about sore eyes, grey fingers or a stomach problem, check what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say about the symptoms: 


“People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:


  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Or at least two of these symptoms:


  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Repeated shaking with chills

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste or smell.”




If you are wondering how you would know if you have COVID-19 or if it’s just flu, The Johns Hopkins Medicine website on its COVID-19 guide explains that it may not be that easy to determine for yourself:


“[COVID-19] cannot easily distinguish from other causes of a viral respiratory infection such as influenza or community-acquired pneumonia based only on clinical grounds.”


The WHO recommends that if you have serious symptoms but cannot be sure if you have flu or COVID-19 you should seek immediate medical attention. And, especially if the symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement.


But what if your symptoms are not respiratory? Should you be worried about conjunctivitis? The WHO lists it amongst the less common symptoms associated with this coronavirus and experts are still studying the connection between them. 


The American Academy of Ophthalmology points out that “several published reports and a recent news article suggest that SARS-CoV-2 can cause conjunctivitis, either as an early sign of infection or during hospitalization for severe COVID-19 disease”.


As for symptoms similar to gastroenteritis, doctors in the United States have recently shared a study about this too. Stanford Medicine found that, in addition to the more common symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath, a significant number of the infected also suffered from loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.


The researchers analysed data collected from 116 patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus at Stanford Health Care from March 4th to the 24th in 2020.


“A third of the patients we studied had gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s possible we may be missing a significant portion of patients sick with the coronavirus due to our current testing strategies focusing on respiratory symptoms alone”, said Alexander Podboy, one of the researchers who spoke to Stanford Medicine News Center.


Beyond the lungs in severe cases


The Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine (AMIB, in Portuguese) also lists gastrointestinal symptoms and adds that the severity of the COVID-19 can vary.


“The clinical presentation in COVID-19 cases varies in severity, going from asymptomatic infection, through a mild disease with unspecified signs and symptoms of acute respiratory disease, up until a severe or fatal disease, characterized by pneumonia that can be severe, leading to respiratory insufficiency and septic shock”, writes the association in an article on its website.


Dr Domingos Malerbi, an endocrinologist and the Brazilian Society for Diabetes’ president explains that COVID-19, in more severe cases, doesn’t just affect the lungs.


In severe cases, “it can present as a viral septicemia, acting like an infection in the blood stream”. In this case it can affect the heart, kidney, brain and even the extremities.


It appears that we are only just beginning to understand how this virus may affect each of us differently.




© 2020. All rights reserved.  |  Last updated: 15 • 02 • 2021