This Strange Symptom May Be the Earliest Sign You Have COVID, Study Says
Researchers have found that this weird symptom is likely an early marker of coronavirus.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the novel coronavirus has been a difficult one to self diagnose thanks to the incredibly wide range of symptoms it can cause. The disease can kick off with gastrointestinal and stomach issues, others may develop a dry cough or body aches, and some who are infected never show any signs of being sick at all. But according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapy, there's one unique scary symptom that can be the earliest sign you have COVID: delirium. Read on for what you should be on the lookout for, and for more on the areas that are seriously cracking down on the recent surge, check out These States Are Starting to Lock Down Again.
Researchers from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Barcelona reviewed an extensive body of studies and reports on COVID-19 and the effects it has on patients and major organs of the body. They found that while a majority of research has focused on how the novel coronavirus affects the lungs, heart, and kidneys, mounting evidence shows that COVID also causes neurological conditions such as "brain fog" and delirium, even in its earliest stages when accompanied by a high fever.
"Delirium is a state of confusion in which the person feels out of touch with reality, as if they are dreaming," Javier Correa, PhD, a researcher on the study, said in a statement. "We need to be on the alert, particularly in an epidemiological situation like this, because an individual presenting certain signs of confusion may be an indication of infection."
The research also sheds light on why the virus is able to have such a strong neurological effect. "The main hypotheses which explain how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 affects the brain point to three possible causes: hypoxia or neuronal oxygen deficiency, inflammation of brain tissue due to cytokine storm, and the fact that the virus has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to directly invade the brain," Correa explained.
But this isn't the only symptom that can be an early sign of COVID-19. Read on to find out what else you should be looking for, according to the researchers. And for more on what could put you at risk, check out If You Live With Someone This Age, You're More Likely to Get COVID.
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It's simple but true: One of the most common indicators that you're coming down with something generally is a fever, but it also could be sign that you've contracted COVID-19. A survey from the Body Politic COVID-19 Support Group found that 48 percent of patients exhibit a fever above 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit. And for the latest COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Loss of smell
Coming down with a common cold can sometimes cause you to lose your sense of smell thanks to stuffed up sinuses and nasal passages. But according to a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine in October, anosmia (AKA the loss of smell) is a COVID symptom that 80 percent of patients exhibit, making it a strong indicator you have coronavirus before you even get tested. And for more on how your nose knows you're sick, know that If You Can't Smell These 2 Things, You May Have COVID.
Loss of taste
Even though the senses of smell and taste are inextricably linked, there can be different reasons for losing one or the other. For example, your stuffy nose caused by a cold can cause you to lose your sense of taste. But the coronavirus has also been known to directly affect your ability to taste and can even lead you to lose this sense altogether. The same PLoS Medicine study found that 78 percent of those who lost their sense of taste later tested positive for COVID.
"Our findings show that loss of smell and taste is a highly reliable indicator that someone is likely to have COVID-19," Rachel Batterham, MD, study leader from University College London and University College London Hospitals, said in a statement. "If we are to reduce the spread of this pandemic, it should now be considered by governments globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing, and contact tracing." And for more on this symptom, be aware that If Your Food Tastes Like This, You May Have COVID.
Unfortunately, headaches are all too common for many people. But there's also a chance that the pain you're feeling could be an early indicator of COVID-19. A study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology journal in October on 509 coronavirus patients at various hospitals in the Chicago area found that nearly 38 percent of these patients experienced headaches at some point over the course of their illness. But it doesn't end there: The same study also found that having headaches as a symptom could be a reliable indicator that you could be hospitalized with the disease. And for more on what could be a sign of how severe your illness will be, check out 80 Percent of Hospitalized COVID Patients Are Deficient in This Vitamin.