COVID-19 symptoms

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice.

COVID-19 — Frequently Asked Questions

Shortness of Breath Caused by COVID-19

Lake Conway. Shortness of breath by COVID-19

Shortness of breath is a hallmark and extremely serious symptom in COVID-19 patients. Everyone with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and new breathlessness requires care and constant monitoring to seek urgent medical attention in case they experience a deteriorating overall condition.

According to numerous doctors’ observations, the COVID-19 related shortness of breath has the following distinguishing characteristics.

  • In COVID-19 patients, breathlessness rarely occurs on the first days of the disease. It usually sets in after 4 or more days since the onset of other symptoms.
  • The first days after difficulty breathing begins are a critical period, when a patient requires constant monitoring and frequent check-ups.
  • It is better if high-risk group individuals can measure their blood oxygen level with a pulse oximeter. The most important thing to monitor is the way shortness of breath changes over time.

By the way, few COVID-19 patients may show no symptoms of breath shortness, despite experiencing hypoxia. However, a dangerously low oxygen saturation level can manifest as vertigo and fainting.

Breathlessness can also be a physical sign of other morbid conditions, such as panic attacks. Then how do you distinguish between coronavirus-related shortness of breath and the rest? The answer to this question is particularly relevant to the current pandemic, with social isolation leading to an increase in mental disorders.

So, if breathlessness comes pretty quickly, it is a sign of anxiety or panic attack. With COVID-19, the shortness of breath always takes time to develop and occurs several days after the initial symptoms begin. Patients with mental health disorders often feel short of breath while trying to sleep or being in a state of rest. While in the case of COVID-19, breathing difficulties are most common after physical exercise, even if it’s just a daily routine such as house cleaning, climbing stairs, or going for a walk.

Finally, if a pulse oximeter is available, you can measure your blood oxygen levels (saturation). With anxiety-related shortness of breath, it will show normal oxygen saturation. Normal readings range from 96 to 100%. A drop below 95% will help distinguish COVID-19 from the rest, in which case a person needs to seek urgent medical attention. A reading below 90% signals systemic hypoxia, a condition which disrupts functions of vital body organs, such as kidneys, heart, brain, and may cause death.

Loss of Smell or Taste by COVID-19

Lake Conway. Loss of smell or taste by COVID-19

People with mild symptoms of COVID-19 disease may have a partial or complete loss of smell, and in some cases — taste.

Causes of Smell Loss in COVID-19 Patients

Alongside hallmark COVID-19 symptoms, such as dry cough, shortness of breath, and persistent fever, most people with proven COVID-19 infection have developed anosmia (complete loss of smell) or hyposmia (decreased sense of smell), including taste disturbance. The virus causes inflammation of the cells supporting olfactory receptors and swelling of the nasal mucosa. In rare cases, this symptom may arise from a lesion in the brain region associated with olfaction and a sense of taste.

According to doctors' observations, a majority of COVID-19 patients experience some level of anosmia, but only 5% need ICU admission due to respiratory failure associated with the loss of smell.

The loss of taste issue derives from the decreased or lost sense of smell, which has a huge impact on detecting flavors. People think they can’t taste while, in fact, they can’t smell. This is not a weird phenomenon but a typical human brain reaction.

How Long does it Take to Get the Smell Back?

There may be either a gradual decline in the sense of smell or sudden anosmia. It usually takes patients 7 to 14 days to get their smell back after full respiratory recovery and provided that they don’t have nasal congestion. In case of a severe COVID-19, the olfactory function may disappear for several months. 

Anosmia may even occur when your nose is not blocked. A person can have normal breathing but no smell sense. The swollen soft tissue and mucosa prevent aroma molecules from reaching the olfactory receptors. As soon as the immune system has successfully fought off the virus, swelling reduces and aroma molecules are back on their usual route towards the receptors. Those who recovered from COVID-19 infection may end up with distorted olfactory perception (parosmia). It’s a condition that makes things smell differently, often repulsively.

There is no cure for parosmia. The sense of smell returns once the virus is removed from the system. If you develop such a symptom, please do not ignore safety rules. Keep yourself and others safe. Get a rapid COVID-19 test at Lake Conway.

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Skin Changes in COVID-19 Patients

Lake Conway. Skin Changes in COVID-19 Patients

A study in China found that the incidence of skin rash among patients was low. Only 3 of 1,000 people showed skin lesions.

Such incidents of skin manifestations have only been documented in the course of observational studies, so it is not certain that they are COVID-19-related. Skin rashes may be caused by an allergic reaction to a medication. Nonetheless, the World Health Organization included rashes on the skin into the list of COVID-19 infection symptoms.

A recent issue of the British Journal of Dermatology featured an article by Spanish scientists that classified cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19 infection. The sample included 400 patients with COVID-19.

  • Frostbite-like rash on the extremities. Rash occurred on arms and legs in approximately 20% of cases. The itching was common among patients, and many complained that their rash hurt to the touch. Usually, the rash appeared after other common symptoms and lasted for about two weeks.
  • Blisters. Some patients (16%) experienced outbreaks of small blisters of the same size and shape localized in the abdominal region or the back. Much more rarely (10%) such lesions involved hands and feet. Blisters more often appeared in patients aged 35 to 55 and were accompanied by intense itching. Such rash usually passes in an average of 10 days.
  • Maculopapular eruptions. This rash looks like small red bumps and may sometimes develop along with other hallmark symptoms. It is healed after 8-10 days and is considered the most dangerous and widespread type of rash, accounting for 48% of all cases.
  • Urticaria rash. Urticarial lesions are raised with itchy bumps of red or white color. In many COVID-19 patients, they were distributed on the entire trunk, including the palms of the hands. This type of rash lasted for 7-9 days and most often occurred in patients with severe COVID-19 (20%). 
  • Livedo.It is the main sign of premature death of skin tissue and impaired circulation in blood vessels. Livedo causes the skin to take on a purple lace-like pattern and is most often associated with older patients having severe COVID-19. This type of rash is considered very rare.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, skin manifestations have begun to gain more attention since they may enable early diagnosis of the infection, especially in young children and older adults.

If you have some skin manifestations, seek medical attention and get a rapid COVID-19 test.

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