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4 unusual COVID-19 symptoms doctors are seeing

M3 India Newsdesk Jul 03, 2020

Eleven million individuals across the globe have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. While most people have been presenting with the commonly seen symptoms of respiratory ailments, fever and other indicators of a flu-like illness, several doctors across the world have noted that in some people, the virus manifests in some peculiar symptoms.

For our comprehensive coverage and latest updates on COVID-19 click here.

Kawasaki Disease

One symptom that doctors have reported is the manifestation of Kawasaki disease-like symptoms in children. Kawasaki disease is a condition which causes inflammation of the blood vessels, which can be attributed to several underlying causes though doctors have yet to ascertain the exact pathology.

The first known case of Kawasaki disease connected to COVID-19 was reported in April from Stanford, California in a 6-month-old infant. The baby tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, after presenting with high grade fever, a rash and some mild respiratory illness. This particular instance was reported in Health Pediatrics, a journal.

Soon after, the New York State Health Department said that there were 64 similar cases, wherein young children were found to have Kawasaki disease after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Some of these children developed cardiogenic or vasogenic shock.

The American Heart Association was quick to state that while the condition was still uncommon, children who present with high fever and elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) or white blood cell count should be closely monitored.


Early on, there were several reports which stated that many individuals who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 had first noticed a loss of the sense of smell, or anosmia. According to doctors from ENT UK at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, a significant number of individuals who tested positive for the disease had a history of having had anosmia. Furthermore, there has been immense supporting evidence studied in infected individuals in South Korea, China, Italy and Germany that several people developed anosmia before falling ill.

In Germany 2 out of every 3 people confirmed to have COVID-19, were reported to have lost the ability to smell. In South Korea, where testing measures have largely been implemented, 30 percent of people testing positive were reported to have anosmia.

Blood Clotting and ‘COVID Toes’

Initially doctors noticed that people developed a condition in their toes, which soon became dubbed ‘COVID toes.’ Those who had this condition tested positive for the virus and also had a peculiar symptom of red or purple lesions in their toes. Dermatologists have termed this condition ‘pernio-like.’ Pernio is a condition in which people develop tender bumps, which can be red or purple in colour on their extremities (specifically on their hands and toes).

While there is no confirmed pathogenesis for this finding, some experts speculate it may be related to blood clotting-related issues in those with the disease.

In the last few weeks of March, several doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York noticed that several individuals who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 were developing signs of blood thickening. Doctors from different fields noted signs of this in various organs of the body: neurologists saw a spike in people developing strokes, nephrologists noticed that several catheters of people on dialysis would be clogged with a blood clot, and other such similar signs were detected.

Happy Hypoxia

Normal blood saturation levels are deemed to be 95 percent and above. In people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 doctors found that several of them had low blood oxygen levels. Scores of individuals who had contracted SARS-CoV-2, were found to have extremely low levels of blood oxygen saturation, which under other circumstances would have caused significant risks.

The medical term for this sign is ‘silent hypoxia’ in which an individual isn’t aware that the body tissues are not getting an appropriate amount of oxygen for regular functions. According to several experts, these individuals usually have had symptoms for anywhere from 2 to 10 days before they even begin to develop respiratory related complaints such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, and tightening of the chest for example.

As the blood oxygen levels slowly decrease, the body is not aware that it is being deprived of oxygen, which is why it can take some time for the symptoms to set-in.

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