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Here’s the CDC’s full list of coronavirus symptoms – but it’s missing the scariest ones

Published Oct 7th, 2020 9:04AM EDT
Coronavirus Symptoms Timeline
Image: kieferpix/Adobe

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  • The CDC has maintained the same basic list of coronavirus symptoms for some time now, including things like fever and shortness of breath as common ailments for people who catch COVID-19.
  • Other common symptoms listed by the CDC include fatigue, cough, sore throat, and the sudden loss of smell or taste.
  • Some of the more serious symptoms that have been discovered recently are still completely omitted from the CDC’s list despite having been acknowledged by the Commission, including scary symptoms like MIS-A and “Long COVID.”

One of the more challenging aspects doctors faced when combatting and diagnosing the coronavirus early on is that the symptoms associated with the virus were seemingly in-flux. So while the early coronavirus symptoms almost mirrored flu-like symptoms to tee, it wasn’t long before doctors started identifying wholly unique and new symptoms, with the sudden loss of taste and smell being a prime example.

If you take a look at the CDC website, the list of coronavirus symptoms — which hasn’t been updated in a while — reads as follows:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The list is somewhat exhaustive but doesn’t include some newly discovered symptoms identified by the CDC, some of which are very serious and, quite frankly, rather scary. To this point, the CDC recently identified multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A) — which is similar to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) — as a symptom that doctors should be aware of.

A CDC report from earlier in the week describes MIS-C as follows:

During the course of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, reports of a new multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) have been increasing in Europe and the United States (1–3). Clinical features in children have varied but predominantly include shock, cardiac dysfunction, abdominal pain, and elevated inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), ferritin, D-dimer, and interleukin-6 (1).

With respect to the adult-oriented MIS-A, the CDC relays that some frequently observed symptoms include cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, dermatologic, and neurologic symptoms. Interestingly enough, some COVID-19 positive patients exhibited the symptoms above without any of the severe respiratory symptoms that typically impact patients.

More specifically, the CDC report adds:

Six patients were initially evaluated for possible cardiac symptoms such as chest pain or palpitations; all 16 had evidence of cardiac effects, including electrocardiogram abnormalities such as arrhythmias, elevated troponin levels, or echocardiographic evidence of left or right ventricular dysfunction. Thirteen patients had gastrointestinal symptoms on admission; five had dermatologic manifestations on admission, including three with mucositis. Despite minimal respiratory symptoms, 10 patients had pulmonary ground glass opacities, and six had pleural effusions identified on chest imaging.

The CDC notes that MIS-A, while rare, can be severe and can lead to death in some instances. Consequently, the CDC is now cautioning doctors to be aware of MIS-A and to look for it as a possible indication of a coronavirus infection.

That said, the CDC does make a point of mentioning that the time between infection and MIS-A symptoms is still not 100% clear,  a fact which adds “adds to uncertainty regarding whether MIS-A represents a manifestation of acute infection or an entirely postacute phenomenon.”

The initial array of coronavirus symptoms aside, one of the aspects of the coronavirus that has left doctors somewhat perplexed is that some coronavirus symptoms tend to linger on even months after an otherwise full recovery. This condition has since been referred to as “long COVID” and can leave some patients fatigued and sick for months.

“We’d better be careful when we say ‘Young people who don’t wind up in the hospital are fine, let them get infected, it’s OK.’ No, it’s not OK,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month. “In individuals who are young and otherwise healthy who don’t require hospitalization but do get sick and symptomatic enough to be in bed for a week or two or three and then get better, they clear the virus – they have residual symptoms for weeks and sometimes months.”

Indeed, it has since come to light that some coronavirus survivors, even those who are otherwise not exhibiting symptoms, can suffer from lung and heart damage. As a study pointed out last month, 88% of coronavirus survivors who received a CT scan demonstrated signs of lung damage even six weeks after leaving the hospital. It’s worth noting, though, that that percentage dropped down to 56% at the 12-week mark.

All that said, the overarching theme here is that the coronavirus is an incredibly nasty and dangerous virus that warrants ongoing vigilance. As Fauci and other health experts have emphasized over the past few weeks, it’s as important as ever for people to wear masks, socially distance, and maintain proper hand-hygiene.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.