More than two years into the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Covid cases continue to be reported every day around the world.
With the appearance of new variants, the covid symptoms also evolved.
Initially, for example, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), UK’s SUS, considered fever, cough and loss or alteration of smell or taste as the main symptoms that could indicate the disease. .
Now recently updated NHS guidance also suggests we should be on the lookout for symptoms, including a sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, and headache.
But what about some of the less obvious signs and symptoms? From skin lesions to hearing loss, new studies increasingly show us that covid symptoms aren’t just limited to a cold or reproach ordinary.
1. Skin injuries
Covid-related skin problems are not uncommon. In fact, a British study published in 2021 found that one in five patients only had a rash and no other symptoms.
Covid-19 can affect the skin in several ways. Some people may have a maculopapular rash (raised flat patches), while others may have hives (raised, itchy patches).
So-called “covid fingers” are characterized by red, swollen or blistered skin lesions on the toes. This symptom is more common in teenagers 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 requiring specific treatment.
However, if the skin is itchy or very painful, it is recommended to consult a doctor, who may recommend the application of a cream.
2. “Covid Nails”
During an infection, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes covid-19), our bodies naturally try to express that they are under unusual stress.
“Covid nails” include changes such as:
- Beau’s Lines: These are horizontal indentations that occur at the base of the nails or toenails when there is a temporary cessation of nail growth due to physical stress on the body.
- Leukonychia striatum: These are horizontal white lines that appear on the nails, although this can be caused by abnormal protein production in the nail bed.
- A red crescent pattern that develops at the base of the nails (the mechanism behind this change is unclear).
Data on how many people have these nail problems is limited, but it is estimated that they may affect 1% to 2% of Covid patients.
“Covid nails” tend to appear in the days or weeks after infection, as the nails grow. Although it may be painful at first, most nails tend to return to normal within a few weeks.
While these changes can be indicative of covid, they can also be caused by different things. For example, Beau’s lines may be the result of chemotherapy or another infection.
3. Hair loss
Hair loss is perhaps an underestimated symptom of Covid-19, often occurring around a month after an acute infection.
In a study of nearly 6,000 people who contracted the new coronavirushair loss was the most common post-covid symptom, reported by 48% of participants.
Hair loss was particularly prevalent among people with severe Covid and among white women.
This is believed to be due to the hair “smelling” the stress on the body, leading to excessive shedding.
In fact, hair loss can also be triggered by other stressful events like childbirth. The good news is that over time, your hair will grow back normally.
4. Hearing loss and tinnitus (or tinnitus)
As with other viral infections such as reproach It’s the measlescovid has been found to affect inner ear cells, with hearing loss or tinnitus (a constant ringing sensation in the ear) sometimes following infection.
In a study of 560 participants, hearing loss was reported in 3.1% of covid-19 patients, while tinnitus occurred in 4.5% of cases.
Another study, with 30 people diagnosed with covid-19 and 30 who did not have the disease, none with pre-existing hearing problems, researchers found that covid-19 was associated with damage to the ear internal, causing hearing problems at higher frequencies.
Although for most patients this resolves on its own, cases of permanent Covid-related hearing loss have been reported.
Why do these symptoms appear?
We don’t understand exactly what causes these symptoms, but we do know that the biggest 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 ‘cytokines’ (also called cytokines), proteins important in controlling the activity of immune cells.
Excess production of these proteins, as part of the inflammation triggered by Covid infection, can lead to sensory deficits, which could explain why some people experience hearing loss and tinnitus.
It can also alter capillaries, very small blood vessels that supply blood to organs, including the ears, skin, and nails.
The symptoms we describe here are not unique to covid infection. That said, if you notice any of these symptoms you should get tested for covid, especially if you are in an area where the virus is circulating.
You can also contact your GP, particularly if symptoms worsen or cause significant discomfort. At the same time, rest assured that most of these symptoms are likely to improve over time.
*Vassilios Vassilou is Professor of Cardiac Medicine, Ranu Baral is Visiting Scholar (FY2 Academic Foundation) and Vasiliki Tsampasian is SpR and NIHR Cardiology Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK.
This article was originally published on the academic news site The Conversation and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Read the Spanish version here.