• A new analysis of coronavirus symptoms from Scientific American shows all the strange and scary ways the pathogen attacks the body’s nervous system.
  • The symptoms include chemethesis, a condition whereby patients don’t completely lose their sense of taste but rather the ability to detect hot chilies or cool peppermints.
  • This comes as the coronavirus pandemic itself is entering a dangerous new phase around the US.

The coronavirus pandemic in the US is entering a daunting new phase, now that we’re in the final months of the year and cold weather is starting to be the norm around the country. As predicted by many health experts including White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, coronavirus cases around the country have set staggering new records. Over just the past seven days alone, for example, there have been more than 489,769 new cases of the virus reported, pushing the total number of infected people in the US to above 8.7 million since the pandemic began (according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University).

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said during a Monday broadcast of the CNBC program Squawk Box that the US is basically on the cusp right now “of what’s going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.” Which makes understanding as much as we can about this pandemic, and especially coronavirus symptoms, all the more important.

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Scientific American, to that end, is just out with a new analysis walking through the destructive course that COVID-19 can take through a person’s nervous system — in addition to the sometimes terrifying symptoms that can accompany the path that the virus cuts through the body.

Some of the common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. But others include “brain fog.” About that one, the piece notes that even after some peoples’ main COVID-19 symptoms have seemed to pass, “it is not uncommon for COVID-19 patients to experience memory loss, confusion, and other mental fuzziness.” The reason why that’s the case is not very clear, with experts speculating that “body-wide inflammation” associated with the coronavirus might be one reason for this symptom.

Along these same lines, meanwhile, the piece adds that severe cases of COVID-19 have been known to cause encephalitis — inflammation of the brain, although this seems to be somewhat rare. Chronic pain is also commonly reported as a long-term coronavirus-related symptom.

Others to be aware of: One of the strangest is chemethesis. This is when patients don’t completely lose their sense of taste, but rather the ability to “detect hot chilies or cool peppermints,” according to SA. “Perceptions conveyed by nociceptors, not taste cells.

“While many of these effects are typical of viral infections, the prevalence, and persistence of these pain-related symptoms — and their presence in even mild cases of COVID-19 — suggest that sensory neurons might be affected beyond normal inflammatory responses to infection.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.