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Four Strange COVID Symptoms You Might Not Have Heard About

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Four Strange COVID Symptoms You Might Not Have Heard About


Well over two years into the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of COVID cases continue to be recorded around the world every day.

With the rise of new variants, the symptoms of COVID have also evolved. Initially, the NHS regarded a fever, cough, and loss or change in sense of smell or taste as the main symptoms which could indicate COVID infection. Now, recently updated NHS guidance suggests also looking out for symptoms including a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, and a headache.

But what about some of the more obscure signs and symptoms? From skin lesions to hearing loss, emerging data is increasingly showing us that COVID symptoms can go beyond what you might expect from a regular cold or a flu.

1. Skin lesions

COVID-related skin complaints are not uncommon. In fact, a UK study published in 2021 found that one in five patients only exhibited a rash and no other symptom.

COVID can affect the skin in a variety of ways. Some people may experience a widespread maculopapular rash (flat or raised areas of discoloured skin), while others might present with hives (raised areas of itchy skin).

COVID toes”, meanwhile, describes red, swollen or blistering skin lesions on the toes. This symptom is more commonly seen in adolescents or young adults with mild or no symptoms.

Most COVID skin lesions tend to go away after a few days, or in some instances a few weeks, without the need for any specialised treatment. If the skin is very itchy or painful though, you can consult a GP or dermatologist, who may recommend treatment such as a cream.

 

2. COVID nails

During an infection, including that of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19), our bodies naturally try to express that they’re under an unusual amount of stress. They can do this in a variety of weird and wonderful ways, including through our nails. “COVID nails” encompasses changes such as:

  • Beau’s lines – horizontal indentations that occur at the base of the fingernails or toenails when there’s a temporary interruption in nail growth due to a physical stress on the body

  • Mees’ lines – horizontal white lines that appear on the nails, thought to be caused by the abnormal production of proteins in the nail bed

  • a red half-moon pattern which develops at the base of the fingernails (the mechanism underlying this change is unclear).

The data on how many people experience COVID nails is limited, but it’s been estimated it could be up to 1-2% of COVID patients.

COVID nails tend to appear in the days or weeks following COVID infection as the nails grow. Although they might be painful initially, the vast majority tend to return to normal over a few weeks.

Notably, while these changes may be indicative of COVID, they can also be caused by different things. For example, Beau’s lines can be secondary to chemotherapy or another infection.

3. Hair loss

Hair loss is perhaps an understated symptom of COVID-19, usually occurring one month or more after the acute infection. In one study of almost 6,000 people who had previously had COVID, hair loss was the most common post-COVID symptom, reported by 48% of participants. It was especially prevalent among people who had severe COVID and white women.

It is thought that this results from the hair “sensing” the stress in the body, leading to excess shedding. Indeed, hair loss can also be triggered by other stressful events, such as childbirth. The good news is that with time the hair grows back to normal.

4. Hearing loss and tinnitus

As with other viral infections, such as the flu and measles, COVID has been found to affect the cells in the inner ear, with hearing loss or tinnitus (a constant ringing sensation in the ear) sometimes following infection.

In a review study that included 560 participants, hearing loss occurred in 3.1% of patients with COVID, while tinnitus occurred in 4.5%.

 

In one study of 30 people who had been diagnosed with COVID, and 30 who hadn’t – none with pre-existing hearing problems – the researchers found that COVID was associated with damage to the inner ear which led to hearing impairment at higher frequencies. While for the vast majority of patients this resolves on its own, cases of permanent hearing loss linked to COVID have been reported.

Why all these symptoms?

We don’t understand exactly what causes these symptoms, but we know the most important part is played by a process called inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s natural defence mechanism against pathogens; SARS-CoV-2 in this case. It involves the production of “cytokines” – proteins which are important in controlling the activity of immune cells.

Excessive production of these proteins, as a part of the inflammation triggered by COVID infection, can cause sensory deficits, which potentially explain why some people are presenting with hearing loss and tinnitus. It can also disrupt the capillary networks, very tiny blood vessels which provide blood to organs including the ears, skin and nails.

The symptoms we’ve described here are not exclusive to COVID infection. That said, if you notice any of these symptoms, it would be appropriate to consider a COVID test, especially if you’re in an area where COVID is circulating.

You can also contact your GP, particularly if the symptoms are getting worse or causing you significant discomfort. At the same time, you can be reassured that most of these symptoms are likely to improve with time.

Vassilios Vassiliou, Professor of Cardiac Medicine, University of East Anglia; Ranu Baral, Visiting Researcher (Academic Foundation Doctor FY2), University of East Anglia, and Vasiliki Tsampasian, Cardiology SpR & NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, University of East Anglia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.





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Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Causes 1 Death, 1 ‘Fetal Loss’

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Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Causes 1 Death, 1 'Fetal Loss'


A Listeria outbreak has caused nearly two dozen illnesses, with most of the patients living in or having traveled to Florida. One person died while a pregnant patient experienced “fetal loss.”

A total of 23 people have been infected with the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak strain as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The illnesses were reported from 10 states. Twelve of the cases were reported in Florida, while eight of the patients who did not live in Florida also reported traveling to the state in the month before they got sick.

That said, “the significance of this is still under investigation,” the CDC noted.

Twenty-two (96%) of the patients had to be hospitalized, with one death reported from Illinois. Five of the patients also fell ill during their pregnancy. One of them experienced a “fetal loss.”

As the CDC explained, pregnant people and their newborns, older adults and those who have weakened immune systems are most at risk of getting sick with Listeria. In pregnant people, it may result in miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery even though the illness itself may only be mild. Their newborns may also experience a “life-threatening infection.”

While other people can be infected with Listeria as well, they “rarely become seriously ill.”

“The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” the CDC explained. “In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.”

Results of whole-genome sequencing suggest that the patients “likely got sick from the same food.” Authorities are still conducting investigations and interviews to determine what the patients may have eaten before they got sick.

“So far, a common food item has not been identified,” the CDC said.

As such, the agency is urging anyone who may have symptoms of Listeria to list the foods they remember eating in the month before they got sick to help “solve the outbreak.”

Symptoms of Listeriosis may be flu-like in pregnant people. In those who aren’t pregnant, the symptoms may include headache, fever, stiff neck, convulsions, loss of balance, confusion and muscle aches. They may also experience food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea.

According to the CDC, symptoms of “severe illness” typically begin about two weeks after eating the contaminated food. But there are also cases in which the symptoms are reported “as early as the same day or as late as 70 days after.”

“If you are at higher risk for Listeria infection and have symptoms, especially if you recently traveled to Florida, talk to your healthcare provider,” the CDC noted.





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Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Monkeypox?

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Omicron And COVID Boosters: Everything You Need To Know


After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the United States already recorded about 300 monkeypox cases, the U.S. government has decided to roll out vaccines to contain the situation as soon as possible. 

The Biden administration has already confirmed that it will roll out 296,000 doses of the only monkeypox vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it’s unclear who should be getting the Jynneos vaccine doses amid the outbreak. 

Last month, the CDC issued a warning, saying members of the LGBTQ community have a higher risk of contracting the virus. The disease is technically not transmitted sexually, but initial reports on the outbreak found that gays and bisexual people accounted for most of the cases. 

Since the virus spreads via contact with body fluids and sores, it can be passed to other people through sexual intercourse, intimate contact and even shared beddings. This prompted the public health agency to issue safer sex guidelines earlier this month. 

The CDC encouraged the public not to kiss and have sex if their partner has monkeypox symptoms or recently developed unexplained rashes or sores. The agency also advised against sharing towels, fetish gear, sex toys and other personal items to avoid the spread of the disease. 

Health officials have warned that the main driver of the growing number of monkeypox cases is making close contact, especially sexual contact. They also singled out the people who should be getting jabbed with the monkeypox vaccine to prevent the outbreak from getting bigger. 

Per the CDC recommendations, the following should receive the Jynneos vaccine for monkeypox: people who have had close contact with a monkeypox patient, men who have sex with men, sexually active transgender people, health care workers who have come in contact with the virus and people who have traveled outside of the U.S. to places with confirmed monkeypox activity. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that transgender people and gender-diverse people could be vulnerable in the context of the monkeypox outbreak, so they should get vaccinated. However, the organization pointed out that regardless of sexuality, everyone is at risk of contracting or passing on the virus. 

Since its detection outside Africa in May, the virus has already spread to 48 countries and infected over 3,500 people. In a new study published this week, scientists said the rapid transmission of the disease could be a product of the virus’ “accelerated evolution.”





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US Secures 105 Million Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine For Fall

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Third COVID-19 Vaccine Dose Protection Only Good For 3 Months?


The United States on Wednesday announced an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for 105 million doses of Covid vaccine for Americans this fall.

The $3.2 billion contract, signed between the companies and the US health and defense departments, includes vaccines for babies, young children, teens and adults, and may include Omicron-specific vaccines, which a panel of government experts recommended on Tuesday.

Delivery will begin in late summer and continue into the fourth quarter, the companies said. The contract gives the US the option to procure up to 300 million doses.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to doing everything we can to continue to make vaccines free and widely available to Americans – and this is an important first step to preparing us for the fall,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress for $23.5 billion in additional Covid funding, but a bill has not yet been passed.

As a result, the federal government “was forced to reallocate $10 billion in existing funding, pulling billions of dollars from Covid-19 response efforts” the statement said, with the new vaccines procured through this reallocation.

White House officials have previously said that without new funding, future vaccines might only be given for free to those at highest risk.





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