As confirmed novel coronavirus cases climb to nearly 2.5 million worldwide, scientists are learning more and more about COVID-19 and its early symptoms. While symptoms such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath are well-documented by health officials as appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, studies are showing there could be other less common symptoms appearing in a significant portion of confirmed patients.
Keep scrolling to learn about the more severe and lesser-known symptoms of the coronavirus, as well as what you should do if you're experiencing these symptoms. For all the latest on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit the organization's website.
Shortness of breath
While shortness of breath is typically not the first symptom of COVID-19, it is the most serious, presenting with or without a cough at times.
"If there's any shortness of breath immediately call your health care provider, a local urgent care or the emergency department," American Medical Association president Dr. Patrice Harris told CNN, adding that if the symptom is "severe enough," you should call 911.
Other emergency warning signs for COVID-19, according to the CDC are "persistent pain or pressure in the chest," and "bluish lips or face," which can indicate a lack of oxygen.
A fever is one of the other telltale symptoms of COVID-19, although experts advise that people not fixate on a specific number, as healthy people's base body temperature can vary from typical 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
"There are many misconceptions about fever," Dr. John Williams, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh told CNN. "We all actually go up and down quite a bit during the day as much as half of a degree or a degree."
According to the Williams, fevers should be monitored once they reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but monitored in the late afternoon or early evening, as COVID-19 fevers have a tendency to skyrocket in the later hours of the day.
Chills and body aches
While chills and body aches may not manifest in a COVID-19 patient, many have described everything from mild chills, fatigue and joint aches to more severe forms of the symptom. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who tested positive for the coronavirus last month, described of his own experience with the virus, "The beast comes out at night."
'It was like somebody was beating me like a pinata. And I was shivering so much that ... I chipped my tooth," she said. "They call them the rigors. ...I was hallucinating. My dad was talking to me. I was seeing people from college, people I haven't seen in forever, it was freaky."
While a cough is another common symptom of COVID-19, a simple clearing of the throat isn't the coughing that should be of concern.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, told CNN of the cough, "It's coming from your breastbone or sternum, and you can tell that your bronchial tubes are inflamed or irritated."
As the prognosis gets more serious, the CDC warns that patients may have sudden confusion come over them or lose the ability to stay awake and alert for an extended period of time.
If this occurs, especially in conjunction with chest pain or trouble breathing, the CDC recommends you call for emergency help.
While doctors first didn't associate gastric issues or diarrhea with the coronavirus, research has now indicated that GI symptoms were present in early days of the virus for many survivors.
"In a study out of China where they looked at some of the earliest patients, some 200 patients, they found that digestive or stomach GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms were actually there in about half the patients," CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on CNN's New Day news program. "I think we're getting a little bit more insight into the types of symptoms that patients might have."
Pink eye is another symptom that initially flew under the radar when it comes to the novel coronavirus. Research out of countries such as China, South Korea indicate that between 1 and 3 percent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 also had contracted conjunctivitis.
Because pink eye is often caused by a viral infection, it tracks that the novel coronavirus could also cause the eye irritation. While conjunctivitis alone isn't a telltale sign of COVID-19, call your doctor if you also have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Loss of smell and taste
One of the more unusual early signs of the novel coronavirus is believed to possibly be a loss of smell and taste, also known as anosmia and ageusia, respectively.
Jane Parker, Ph.D., who is an associate professor in flavor chemistry at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, said in a new study reviewed by Medical News Today, “[t]his paper shows good preliminary (non-peer-reviewed) evidence that loss of smell and taste is likely to be a symptom of COVID-19, but its role as an early warning signal has not been confirmed.”
While moderate fatigue is a classic sign of the standard flu, COVID-19 came with extreme fatigue as an early sign, with 40 percent of the nearly 6,000 people with laboratory confirmed cases experienced the symptom in a recent World Health Organization study.
For CNN's Cuomo, he said of his own fatigue, "I'm so lethargic that I can stare outside, and, like, an hour-and-a-half goes by. I think I took a 10-minute nap, and it was three and a half hours."
Headache, sore throat, congestion0comments
The WHO report also found that about 14 percent of the almost 6,000 cases studied in China included symptoms of headache and sore throat. Almost 5 percent reported had nasal congestion.
Because these symptoms are more common in a cold or flu than COVID-19, doctors advise you monitor these symptoms in conjunction with any more severe symptoms that you may experience, that is unless you are over 60, immunocompromised or pregnant, in which case the CDC advises you call your doctor for guidance. Others are advised to stay at home and manage their symptoms with rest, hydration and fever-reducing medications.