COVID-19 has such a wide variety of symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, that it’s difficult to tell if your cough or sneeze is worrisome. A new study prioritized the symptoms of COVID-19 versus other diseases in order to help patients and professionals more quickly identify and diagnose these illnesses.
The study authors found that the flu likely begins with a cough, while COVID-19 starts with a fever, like other coronavirus-related diseases such as MERS or SARS. However, unlike MERS and SARS, people with COVID-19 experience upper gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. With MERS and SARS, the first GI symptom is diarrhea, according to Today.
“Where I think this can really help is in understanding how cautious do I need to be if I only have a cough or I only have diarrhea,” said researcher Peter Kuhn, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and one of the authors of the study. “If it starts with a fever then I would be more cautious and maybe I would get tested and try harder not to be around others until I got results.”
Dr. Richard Zimmerman, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, adds that loss of smell and taste may also be early symptoms of COVID-19, and stresses that anyone who has shortness of breath and low oxygen levels would most likely require hospitalization.
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