Ohio Department of Health

Health officials, including Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, are saying there are new symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) that are emerging, beyond the major symptoms identified with the disease in the past.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Acton said that we talk a lot about symptoms of the coronavirus being flu-like, and she said some of the data they are looking at show that these symptoms discussed previously, such as fever, headaches, and body aches, are still occurring. Other major symptoms of the virus have been coughing, and in some cases, having trouble breathing, which are still occurring as well.

However, new data is showing some new symptoms emerging, she said.

Dr. Acton said some of the new data is coming from Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, which is where the first confirmed cases of the virus in Ohio were announced and which has had a larger number of confirmed cases than any other Ohio county to date. These new symptoms include GI (gastrointestinal) upset, feeling more fatigued than usual, and sometimes not showing a fever.

“But you know when you’re not feeling well,” she said. “My best advice to everyone is if you don’t feel well in any way, stay home and make that call (to medical personnel).”

Dr. Acton indicated that some people do not have a physician but that local health departments have resources and that people can call federally qualified health centers or even call an emergency room.

“But call first; that helps them get ready to best treat you,” she said.

CNN recently reported that a study of COVID-19 patients in China exhibited symptoms beyond fever, cough, and shortness of breath — symptoms previously identified by U.S. health officials.

“That’s because many patients infected with coronavirus, according to the study, may initially present to the hospital with diarrhea, anorexia and vomiting – not necessarily with respiratory symptoms,” CNN reported on March 18. “Even when researchers excluded anorexia – a loss of appetite or aversion to food – they found that 1 in 5 coronavirus patients still came to the hospital with diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

“In more severe coronavirus cases, digestive symptoms also became more pronounced, and patients with digestive problems were less likely to be discharged, according to the study.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, according to CNN, and looked at 204 confirmed coronavirus cases in Hubei Province, China.

According to CNN, “While the researchers cautioned that larger studies would be needed to confirm their findings, they warned that ‘if clinicians solely monitor for respiratory symptoms to establish case definitions for COVID-19, they may miss cases initially presenting with extra-pulmonary symptoms, or the disease may not be diagnosed later until respiratory symptoms emerge.’”

This may also explain, in-part, why many healthcare workers in China were infected in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the researchers said, according to CNN.

CNN also reported on March 23 that “doctors in the United States on Sunday called for the loss of sense of smell and taste to be added to the ‘list of screening tools’ for Covid-19.”

“The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery said symptoms of anosmia, or lack of sense of smell, and dysgeusia, or lack of taste, should be used to identify possible Covid-19 infections,” according to CNN.

“Anosmia, in particular, has been seen in patients ultimately testing positive for the coronavirus with no other symptoms,” reads a statement on the academy’s website.”

“Those symptoms ‘warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals,’ continues the statement.”

Email at mlucas@newswatchman.com; follow on Twitter @NewsWatchman.

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