This Subtle Side Effect Could Be Serious If It Lasts More Than 3 Days

Experts are warning individuals of this rare but potentially serious reaction.

By now, those who have gotten the COVID vaccine and those waiting to get vaccinated are well aware of the plethora of side effects one can experience after the shot. From swelling in your arm to muscle aches to tummy troubles, you can have a variety of reactions to the COVID vaccine. The vast majority of these responses are a normal sign of your body building up immunity, but you do want to be on the lookout for any abnormal reactions that could require medical attention. According to experts, if you have one particular side effect that lasts more than three days after vaccination, it could be a sign of something serious. Read on to find out what reaction to keep an eye on, and for more on vaccine preparedness, Make Sure to Do This the Day After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Say.

Tingling in the hand of your vaccinated arm is likely just a temporary reaction.

Close up of general practitioner hand holding vaccine injection while wearing face protective mask during covid-19 pandemic. Young woman nurse with surgical mask giving injection to senior man.
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Tingling in your hands or fingers, also known as paresthesia, is not a common side effect after getting the COVID vaccination but some could end up experiencing it for various reasons, warns Sandra El Hajj, NMD, a health professional specializing in Preventive Global Health.

Hajj says the tingling would most likely be the temporary result of your nerves reacting to your vaccination. "In most cases, it is an immediate reaction to the needle injection itself and not what you are being injected with. So experiencing this temporary reaction means that your nerves got defensive when you inserted the needle," she explains.

According to Spencer Kroll, MD, a board-certified internal medicine specialist, "Short term, tenderness, swelling and/or redness where the injection has been administered is common and this could cause transient numbness or tingling in the vaccinated arm of hand." Kroll says tingling from a nerve reaction "can persist for several days but should progressively improve." And for more on another concerning reaction, If 1 of These 3 Body Parts Starts Swelling Up After Your Vaccine, Call a Doctor.

Tingling could also be a sign of anxiety amid vaccination.

Close up shot of a mid-adult man listening to someone speaking whilst sitting in a support group session.
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Tingling could also be a symptom of anxiety, especially if you're afraid of needles or find the COVID vaccination process to be stressful. "For some people, being afraid of needles and feeling anxious could lead to rapid heart beating that causes hyperventilation," Hajj explains. Hyperventilation—which is the result of you breathing too quickly and breathing out too much carbon dioxide—can cause tingling in your fingers and hands because your blood vessels are narrowing, stopping blood from getting to your extremities. And for more up-to-date COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

But if you experience tingling in your hand for more than three days after vaccination, see a doctor.

Close up of sad tired woman suffering from pain in hand or wrist sitting on bed at home, girl patient touching wrist feeling hurt joint pain having osteoarthritis disease health problem
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In rare cases, Hajj says that tingling could be the result of the needle going deeper into your muscle than it should, "injuring a nerve that is in charge of communicating with the fingers." If this is the case, your tingling will last for more than three days and you should see a doctor. "This would be referred to as nerve trauma," she says. "In rare cases, where the tingling lasts for over three days, the injection is the cause."

A 2017 study published in the Anesthesia and Pain Medicine journal discussed the need for correct needle placement and the awareness of nerve injury following needle procedures. According to the study, patients should inform vaccination providers of any abnormal pain or paresthesia during a shot, so they can be alerted to the possibility of nerve injury. "Careful monitoring of the injection site for hours is required for early detection of nerve injury," the researchers said in their study. However, Hajj also notes that out of the hundreds of millions who have received the COVID vaccine so far, no reports of neurologic conditions developed due to the vaccine have occurred. And for more vaccine guidance, The CDC Says You Should Immediately Do This Once You've Been Vaccinated.

Your tingling may affect different parts of your body depending on the cause.

Male doctor speaks to woman patient
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Tingling resulting from anxiety-induced hyperventilation is more likely to be a full body reaction, affecting both hands and/or both feet. But the issue could be nerve related if it's long-lasting and is isolated to the arm and hand in which you received the vaccination.

If the tingling lasts for several days without improving, it could be cause for concern—Hajj says if you have experienced nerve trauma or injury, it won't go away after a few days. "Sometimes, if the injection is too deep, a blood clot could form by the nerve—having the same tingling effect," she says. Though this is also very rare, it's another reason why you should contact your doctor if any tingling persists for more than three days after your vaccination. And for more unusual reactions, discover The Strange New COVID Vaccine Side Effect That's Confusing Even Doctors.

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Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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