CDC Identifies More Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection

COVID-19 Blood
Print icon

For weeks, we’ve been eagle-eyed for fevers, coughing and trouble breathing, but doctors are now revealing additional symptoms that can be signs of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

The Centers for Disease Control recently expanded the list of signs a person may be infected with the virus to include:

  • Muscle pain.
  • Sore throat.
  • Headaches.
  • Chills that cause prolonged shaking.
  • Loss of taste or smell.

Symptom variation from one patient to another is part of the challenge of COVID-19. Many COVID-positive patients, for example, aren’t feverish or their fever comes and goes.

Besides the CDC update, healthcare teams fighting the pandemic list other signs, such as:

Blood clots: This symptom might not be apparent until the person is hospitalized, but many COVID-19 patients show elevated levels of protein particles in their blood indicating their bodies are trying to break up blood clots. The blood of others is clogging in medical tubing.

Clots are causing heart attacks and strokes in COVID-19 patients, and leading to swollen wounds on fingers and toes, and skin rashes. Autopsies often show blood vessels choked with blood clots. Clots seem to target the lungs, cutting off blood flow to the air sacs where blood should exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.

French researchers compared 150 patients with respiratory failure due to COVID-19 and 145 with respiratory failure but no virus. They noticed much higher rates of blood clotting in the former, although why this is happening is still largely unproven.

A cardiologist, in a letter published in The Lancet, asserted that images taken with an electron microscope found traces of COVID-19 in the lining of blood vessels throughout the body. This, he said, indicates it is not just a lung disease. This would explain why people with high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are more likely to get sicker from the virus and why ventilators don’t help all patients.

Digestive issues: Research out of Wuhan, China, showed more than half of patients testing positive for COVID-19 came to the hospital complaining about diarrhea, loss of appetite or vomiting. They delayed their trip and were then more likely to suffer liver damage. The researchers advised that anyone with digestive symptoms and a fever that will not go away should self-quarantine as if they had COVID-19.

Silent hypoxia: Some quite sick with COVID-19 show very low blood oxygen saturation levels but aren’t struggling to breathe. They, in short, don’t present like patients with typical respiratory distress or failure. Their lungs simply aren’t effectively oxygenating the blood.

Healthy blood oxygen levels are around 97 percent. At levels below 90 percent, the brain may not get enough oxygen and people might feel confused or sluggish. If levels dip to the low 80s, vital organs could be damaged.

Like the digestive distress, this symptom belies the severity of the disease, so people wait until they feel much worse to seek care. Some feel alert and comfortable with levels in the 80s. The realization caused some experts to suggest people use pulse oximeters to monitor their symptoms at home and seek help sooner if needed.

Treatment has been affected by this riddle as well. Fewer who are not struggling to breathe are being intubated even if their blood oxygen level is low. Most do well with oxygen delivered through a nasal tube or mask.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.


What's New

Bliss Beam-Signing

Beam-Signing Marks Progress of Hartford Hospital Expansion

HARTFORD—With COVID-19 cases rising in other parts of the country and an increasing need for critical care beds in hotspots like Florida and Arizona, Hartford HealthCare marked a milestone July 10 that will help the health system be even more prepared for future outbreaks in Connecticut. Hartford HealthCare and Hartford...

Fecal transplant

COVID-19 Weight-Gain Assessment: BMI vs. Body Fat vs. Waistline

For three months, Connecticut gyms were closed and people spent more time inside their homes, with “quarantine baking” a popular pandemic pastime. Sales of candy, carbohydrate-rich foods and alcohol soared since stay-at-home orders were issued at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. While many people joke about putting on the...

Mobile Testing

Hartford HealthCare Hits 100,000 Tests, Highlighting Critical COVID-19 Tool

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages elsewhere in the country, Hartford HealthCare reached a milestone by hitting the 100,000-test mark, a feat officials say has helped keep Connecticut’s infection rate at less than 1 percent. “Testing is absolutely vital to containment,” said Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks. “We will...

Dr. Linette Rosario

Millennial Doctor: Why Millennials Need a Primary Care Physician

What happens when millennials get their own health insurance plan? Unfortunately, not enough. They’re much less likely than Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) to have a primary care physician. Dr. Linette Rosario is a primary care physician with the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Bridgeport. She’s also a...

Frustrated woman worried about problem sitting on sofa with laptop

Fatigued From Bad News? 5 Ways to Tune Out

As responsible citizens, we like to watch the news, but the stress of pandemics, racism, protests that can spark looting or tear-gassing, and an ugly election season makes it a stressful experience. We turn the news on each evening or read it in papers, magazines or websites. Meanwhile, the feelings...

Connecticut College

Conn College Adding Health Services, Sports Medicine From Hartford HealthCare

There’s a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care location a few minutes off the Connecticut College campus in New London, but a new partnership brings high-quality, comprehensive healthcare even closer for students and faculty. Hartford HealthCare (HHC) and Connecticut College announced a partnership July 8 designed to enhance student health services and...