The Surprising Coronavirus Symptom You Haven't Heard About
A neurologist explains why COVID-19 may make you more likely to fall or drop things.
As we continue to learn more about the toll COVID-19 takes on patients' bodies, a wide range of symptoms have been reported. You may realize that a case of the disease can come with a fever, sore throat, and shortness of breath, but there are also less frequently discussed symptoms that it can cause. A few of them you may not even have equated with being sick. One surprising symptom that some have struggled with might even seem harmless. Coronavirus can cause clumsiness, experts and patients say.
In a recent account of his experience with COVID-19, CNN Business editor-at-large Richard Quest described the symptoms that have persisted since he was infected in mid-April, including common complaints such as cough, confusion, and digestive issues. But Quest also wrote that two months after his positive coronavirus test, he has noticed he is still dealing with agility and coordination."
"My clumsiness is off the chart," he said. "If I reach for a glass, or take something out of a cupboard, I will knock it, or drop it on the floor. I have tripped over the curb and gone flying. I fall over furniture. It is as if that part of my brain, which subconsciously adjusts hand and movement to obstacles it sees, isn't working."
While clumsiness is not listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a common coronavirus symptom (and the agency acknowledges that the list is incomplete and subject to change), James Giordano, PhD and professor of Neurology and Biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center tells Best Life that Quest's prolonged symptom could be linked to COVID-19 for a few reasons.
Giordano says that the virus "can affect cells of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, both directly and by causing changes to the blood vessels of these systems, that can induce damage to the arteries and veins, cause blot clots, and disrupt blood—and therefore oxygen—supply to these tissues."
Issues caused by changes to those cells can also "lead to lowered oxygen levels in the blood supply to the brain, which can induce diminished functional capacity of neural cells," he says. Changes to the intestinal environment can disrupt the balance of healthy microorganisms, which can affect neurological functions, such as thought, emotion, and motor activity. Giordano also explains that inflammation caused by the virus can enter the brain and affect the structure and function of neural cells.
Any one of these conditions or a combination of a them could result in a sense of clumsiness, which Giordano describes as a "change in patients' motor skills and coordination." While moderate clumsiness is likely not harmful, he urges anyone experiencing a rapid onset of this symptom to seek medical care and get a complete neurological examination.
For more unexpected ways the disease can affect you, here are The 7 Strangest Coronavirus Symptoms You Need to Know About.