Doctors across the globe are struggling to deal with the growing number of COVID-19 infected patients. The virus is spreading faster than it can be detected due to a lack of medical staff and testing kits. As a result, many countries have shut down major industries in order to promote social distancing in hopes of “flattening the curve.”
A lot of research is being done while fighting the disease As more data from the world pours in, researchers are now starting to see distinct patterns emerge among infectees, giving clues about how the illness manifests itself in patients.
1. It starts with minor physical complaints.
Very often, people start off with minor physical complaints — slight cough, headache, low-grade fever — that gradually worsen.
“Patients tend to have symptoms for about a week before either getting better, or getting really sick,” said Dr. Joshua Denson, a pulmonary medicine and critical care physician at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans.
Denson, who estimated he’s treated 15 to 20 patients with the coronavirus, described that first phase of the illness as “a slow burn
2. Your Gut is a mess.
Most patients with the coronavirus have respiratory symptoms, but these findings from the early stages of the outbreak show that digestive problems are prevalent in many patients with COVID-19.
“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” wrote the investigators from the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19.
Patients with digestive symptoms had a variety of problems, including loss of appetite (nearly 84%), diarrhea (29%), vomiting (0.8%) and abdominal pain (0.4%).
Patients without digestive symptoms were more likely to be cured and discharged than those with digestive symptoms (60% versus 34%), according to the study published March 18 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology
3. You lose your sense of smell.
Doctor groups are recommending testing and isolation for people who lose their ability to smell and taste, even if they have no other symptoms.
A mother who was infected with the coronavirus couldn’t smell her baby’s full diaper. Cooks who can usually name every spice in a restaurant dish can’t smell curry or garlic, and food tastes bland. Others say they can’t pick up the sweet scent of shampoo or the foul odor of kitty litter.
Anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, and ageusia, an accompanying diminished sense of taste, have emerged as peculiar telltale signs of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and possible markers of infection.
“We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate,” Prof. Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, wrote in an email. “It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives.”