More than two years after the pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of covid cases continue to be reported around the world every day.
With the emergence of new variants, the symptoms of covid have also evolved.
Initially, for example, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) considered fever, cough, and loss or change in the sense of smell or taste as the main symptoms that could indicate a disease. covid infection.
Now, recently updated NHS guidance also suggests watching out for symptoms including a sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose and a headache.
But what about some of the darker signs and symptoms? From skin lesions to hearing loss, emerging data is increasingly showing us that symptoms of covid can go beyond what one might expect from a common cold or flu.
1. Skin lesions
Covid-related skin problems are not uncommon. In fact, a UK study published in 2021 found that one in five patients only presented one rash and no other symptoms.
Covid can affect the skin in several ways. Some people may experience a generalized maculopapular rash (flat or raised areas of discolored skin), while others may have urticaria (raised areas of itchy skin).
while the so-called “fingers covid“, describes red, swollen, or blistering skin lesions on the toes. This symptom is more common in adolescents or young adults with mild or no symptoms.
Most skin lesions caused by covid tend to disappear after a few days or, in some cases, a few weeks, without the need for any specialized treatment.
However, if the skin itches or hurts a lot, you can consult a GP or dermatologist, who may recommend a treatment such as the application of a cream.
2. covid nails
During an infection, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes covid-19), our body naturally tries to express that it is under an unusual amount of stress.
You can do this in a variety of weird and wonderful ways, including through our fingernails. “Covid nails” includes changes such as:
- Beau’s lines: These are horizontal indentations that occur at the base of the fingernails or toenails when there is a temporary interruption in nail growth due to physical stress on the body.
- leukonychia striatum: are the horizontal white lines that appear on the nails, although this can be caused by the abnormal production of proteins in the nail bed.
- A pattern of red crescent that develops at the base of the nails (the mechanism underlying this change is unclear).
Data on how many people experience these nail problems is limited, but it is estimated that it could be as many as 1-2% of patients with covid.
Covid nails tend to appear in the days or weeks after the covid infection as the nails grow. Although it can be painful at first, in the vast majority the nails tend to return to normal within a few weeks.
While these changes may be indicative of covid, they are also they can be caused by different things. For example, Beau’s lines can be secondary to chemotherapy or another infection.
3. Hair loss
Hair loss is perhaps an underestimated symptom of covid-19, which usually occurs a month or more after acute infection.
In a study of nearly 6,000 people who had had Covid, hair loss was the most common post-Covid symptom, reported by 48% of participants.
It was especially prevalent among people who suffered covid serious and in White women.
This is thought to be because the hair “senses” stress on the body, leading to excessive hair loss.
In fact, hair loss can also be triggered by other stressful events, such as childbirth. The good news is that over time the hair it grows back usually.
4. Hearing loss and tinnitus (or tinnitus)
As with other viral infections, such as the flu and measles, covid has been found to affect the inner ear cells, with hearing loss or tinnitus (a constant ringing sensation in the ear) sometimes after infection.
In a study involving 560 participants, hearing loss was reported in 3.1% of covid patients, while tinnitus occurred in 4.5% of cases.
In a study of 30 people who had been diagnosed with COVID and 30 who had not, none with pre-existing hearing problems, researchers found that COVID was associated with damage to the inner ear leading to hearing problems at higher frequencies.
While for the vast majority of patients this resolves on its own, it has been reported cases of permanent hearing loss related to covid.
Why do these symptoms appear?
We don’t understand exactly what causes these symptoms, but we do know that the most important role is played by a process called inflammation.
Inflammation is our body’s natural defense mechanism against pathogens; SARS-CoV-2 in this case. It involves the production of “quotewhatinas” (also called cytokines), proteins that are important in controlling the activity of immune cells.
Excessive production of these proteins, as part of the inflammation triggered by covid infection, can cause sensory deficitswhich could explain why some people experience hearing loss and tinnitus.
also can disrupt capillary networksvery small blood vessels that supply blood to organs, including the ears, skin, and nails.
The symptoms we have described here are not exclusive to covid infection. That said, if you notice any of these symptoms, it would be appropriate to consider getting tested for covid, especially if you are in an area where it is circulating.
You can also contact your GP, especially if symptoms worsen or cause you significant discomfort. At the same time, rest assured that most of these symptoms are likely to improve with time.
*Vassilios Vassilou is a Professor of Cardiac Medicine, Ranu Baral is a Visiting Research Fellow (FY2 Academic Foundation) and Vasiliki Tsampasian is an SpR and NIHR Cardiology Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK.
*This artThis article was published on The Conversation and reproduced under a Creative Commons license. Click here to read the original version
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