Possible New Symptoms, Problems Linked to the Coronavirus

25 May 2020

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report

More people around the world have been tested for the new coronavirus and found to have COVID-19. As a result, doctors and other health care workers are reporting new COVID-19 symptoms.

The most common symptoms are a high temperature (or fever), a dry cough and shortness of breath. However, less common symptoms also are being reported. These include a loss of smell, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, swelling and skin problems.

COVID-19 in children

The Associated Press (AP) reports that children are the latest group to be affected with new symptoms.

Health care workers say some children who have tested positive for the coronavirus are having abdominal pain and swelling. However, they do not have the more common breathing problems that affect older adults.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, told the AP recently that his state is now investigating about 100 cases of a COVID-related condition in children. It affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States says Kawasaki disease usually affects children age five and younger. The symptoms include:

  • fever,
  • rash,
  • swelling of the hands and feet,
  • irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes,
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck, and
  • irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat.

Health officials in New York City have reported that at least 52 children have become sick with the condition. Three deaths have been reported.

Hospitals in the state have been advised to place high importance on COVID-19 testing for children showing these symptoms. Parents are urged to call their doctor immediately if their children show symptoms including long-lasting fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Children in other parts of the U.S. and Europe have also been hospitalized with a similar condition.

Evacuated children wearing masks as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus stand at a relief camp at Paradeep, on the Bay of Bengal coast in Orissa, India, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
Evacuated children wearing masks as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus stand at a relief camp at Paradeep, on the Bay of Bengal coast in Orissa, India, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Skin conditions

There also are reports of COVID-19 patients having skin conditions, such as rashes.

In one report, doctors looked at 88 COVID-19 patients in an Italian hospital. Italy has one of the highest numbers of infected people. They found that one in five patients had some kind of skin problem. These symptoms were mostly red rashes over the area of the body between the neck and the waist.

In another report, Spanish doctors reported that 375 confirmed virus patients had skin problems. These included different kinds of rashes and swollen toes.

Skin doctors, or dermatologists, were expecting to see more skin problems as the virus continues to spread.

A dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital explained to the Associated Press that viruses often affect the skin. Dr. Esther Freeman said seeing skin rashes become a symptom of COVID-19 did not surprise her.

However, one probable symptom did: COVID toes.

COVID toes

"COVID toes" are red, painful and sometimes itchy, swollen areas on the toes. Doctors say the condition looks like tissue problems on the feet of people who have spent a long time outdoors in the cold.

Dr. Freeman directs an international COVID-19 registry for doctors to report cases of possibly virus-linked skin symptoms. Of 500 cases reported since late March, she said about half involved red, swollen spots on the feet.

It is still not clear when COVID toes might appear in coronavirus-infected patients. For some people, it is the first or even the only symptom they notice. Others see the toe problem at the same time or even a few weeks after experiencing more common and serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Another dermatologist said that COVID toes are showing up in young people too. Amy Paller is a children's dermatologist at Northwestern University. She is collecting pictures of patients' toes to learn more about the possible condition.

At this time, doctors do not know how the virus causes COVID toes. However, doctors at the American Academy of Dermatology gave advice on how to deal with concerns about COVID toes.

The first step is a meeting, possibly by video conferencing, with a doctor. The next step is to find out if the person has other COVID-19 symptoms. If there is no other reason for urgent care, the doctor would then decide whether a patient should stay at home or get tested. However, doctors should discuss each patient's overall health and history before moving on to testing and other care.

Whatever a person's symptoms might be, doctors remind us of this warning: People can carry and spread the virus without experiencing any symptoms.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report. I'm Anna Matteo.

Lauran Neergaard and Mary Esch reported on these topics for The Associated Press Health. Anna Matteo adapted their stories for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

symptom –n. a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present

cough –n. forcing air through your throat with a short, loud noise often because you are sick

abdomen –n. the part of the body below the chest that contains the stomach and other organs : abdominal –adj. relating to the addomen

swell –v. to expand (as in size, volume, or numbers) gradually beyond a normal or original limit

lymph gland (node) medical –n. : any one of many rounded masses of tissue in the body through which lymph passes to be filtered and cleaned

irritation –n. a condition of irritability, soreness, roughness, or inflammation of a bodily part

inflammation –n. a condition in which a part of your body becomes red, swollen, and painful

rash –n. a group of red spots on the skin that is caused by an illness or a reaction to something

itchy –adj. something that makes an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling on your skin or inside your mouth, nose, etc., that makes you want to scratch