This Common Annoyance May Be the First Sign You Have COVID, New Study Says

It's usually harmless, but this everyday occurrence could be a coronavirus symptom.

The coronavirus can be hard to pinpoint. After all, it's hardly "one size fits all" when it comes to cases. Some COVID-19 patients experience no symptoms at all, and others experience rather unusual coronavirus symptoms. Not to mention the fact that new symptoms of the virus are still being discovered months into the pandemic. In fact, a new study is pointing out that a common annoyance many people experience may actually be the first sign of COVID: hiccups.

A July study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that persistent hiccups could be an early tell-tale sign of the coronavirus.

The study followed one patient in particular: A 62-year-old man with no history of lung problems who sought medical help after a four-day bout of persistent hiccups, and unintentional weight loss of 25 pounds over a period of four months.

man experiencing hiccups holding throat

When the patient was admitted to the hospital, he had no signs of other COVID-19 symptoms. His temperature was only 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit and he presented no symptoms of congestion, sore throat, or shortness of breath—some of the most common coronavirus symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Instead, chest X-rays showed groundless opacities—which are unusual hazy areas—in his right upper lung, as well as his left mid and lower lungs. As Bruce Y. Lee, MD, professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health, wrote for Forbes, this could represent "some type of lung inflammation, bleeding, or damage" in relation to chest scans. The medical staff sent COVID-19 tests to the lab and admitted the patient to their COVID medical unit as a "person under investigation," the study said.

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Upon arrival to the medical unit, the patient had reached a temperature of 101.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered a fever. And just one day after being admitted, his results came back positive for the coronavirus. The report didn't specify why the man had experienced weight loss, but since it happened over the course of four months, it was likely not coronavirus-related. The relentless hiccups, on the other hand, certainly were, the researchers noted.

"To our knowledge, this is the first case report of persistent hiccups as the presenting complaint in a COVID-19 positive patient in emergency medicine literature," the researchers wrote in the report. "It stresses the importance of a detailed evaluation in those presenting with hiccups, at a minimum taking a thorough history, physical exam, obtaining basic laboratory work, and getting a chest X-ray." And for more coronavirus symptoms, discover 23 Shocking Signs of COVID-19 You Didn't Know About.

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