While most are on the lookout for a fever and cough in this era of the coronavirus, new symptoms of the virus are emerging that seem to have nothing to do with the respiratory system.
Dr. Yeşim Taşova, head of the medicine faculty at Çukurova University’s Balcalı Hospital and a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, said doctors have begun to see new neurological symptoms in patients who test positive for COVID-19.
“The coronavirus has also been associated with insomnia, encephalitis and meningitis, which involve inflammation of the brain,” she said.
Some patients have been experiencing symptoms similar to Guillain-Barre syndrome, characterized by weakness and tingling in the outer extremities of the body that can spread throughout the body, Taşova added.
Skin conditions have also been reported. “Different skin rashes started to appear. For example, redness and swelling began to be seen in the toes, called ‘COVID toes,’” she said.
Taşova said these findings have been determined to be connected with the coronavirus after careful examination of numerous cases.
A study published in July in The Lancet journal identified neurological symptoms in a limited sample of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China.
Out of 901 patients in the study, encephalopathy – damage or effects on the brain – was reported in 93 patients, just over 10%. Guillain-Barre syndrome was reported in 19 patients, and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, was identified in eight patients.
Another study published in June in the Annals of Neurology found that almost half of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois reported neurological effects.
In fact, symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, weakness, strokes and decreased alertness can precede the better-known COVID-19 symptoms such as fever and respiratory ailments, the researchers found.
Contrary to the initial, respiratory-focused understanding of the coronavirus, the virus has been found to affect the entire nervous system and brain, as well as the kidneys and heart, said researcher Dr. Igor Koralnik of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
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