Coronavirus always appears to be two steps ahead of efforts to contain it. It wields its unpredictability in the area of symptoms. As the virus has ravaged communities, it has become all too apparent that it is not comparable to the flu.
This curveball has come at a hefty cost – intensive care units have had to contend with blood clot formations in seemingly healthy individuals, for example.
Patient reports hint at the unpredictability of COVID-19 symptoms.
Although it’s rare, COVID-19 can cause painful inflammation in the joints or lead to rhabdomyolysis, a serious and potentially life-threatening illness that can cause excruciating muscle pain in the shoulders, thighs or lower back.
A New York cyclist who developed severe leg pain in May was initially diagnosed via telemedicine with a bulging disc.
She sought a second telemedicine opinion with Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who asked her to move, twist and put pressure on her legs as he watched her on video.
“Down to her calf she said, ‘Ouch, that really hurts,’” said Dr Metzl in an interview with the New York Times.
Dr Metzl continued: “I’m not an alarmist doctor in the least, but I looked for the closest emergency room to her, which was 16 miles away. I said, ‘I want you to get in the car and drive yourself to the E.R. right now.’”
An ultrasound showed she had no pulse in her legs and severe clotting in both legs, putting her at risk of amputation.
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She was transferred to another hospital and underwent nine hours of emergency surgery.
Dr. Metzl said it was fortunate that he had just had a conference call with colleagues about blood clots and COVID.
How common is rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is rarely seen and was only reported in 0.2 percent of patients in a study of 1099 patients in China.
According to a report published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, rhabdomyolysis is usually linked to trauma, strenuous exercise, prolonged immobilisation, seizure, and toxins, including illicit substances such as cocaine, alcohol, and drugs including statins.
Other viral infections including influenza A and other coronaviruses such as SARS have been associated with rhabdomyolysis, notes the journal.
What are the common symptoms of COVID-19?
According to a study entitled the Clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease 2019 in China, the most common symptoms currently associated with COVID-19 include fever, cough, and fatigue.
The NHS also includes a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste in this list.
This means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
“Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms,” notes the health body.
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, current public health advice says to:
- Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
- Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.