The COVID-19 pandemic has been around for more than a year now. Individuals infected with the novel coronavirus disease have shown a wide range of symptoms, from mild and moderate, to severe or critical.
With the virus is changing its form rapidly and with new variants being discovered, newer and unusual symptoms are being noticed in recently infected patients. However, classic signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include - fever (with or without chills), shortness of breath, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat, a loss of sense of taste or smell, nasal congestion, fatigue, and muscle soreness.
India is currently going through the second wave of COVID-19 and the virus is said to be more infectious than it was previously. It is important for you to be aware of the newest symptoms of COVID-19 to be able to identify them, take timely treatment and avoid complications.
New symptoms of the Covid-19 second wave infection
Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing (dyspnea), is one of the early symptoms of coronavirus, predominantly seen in infected patients during the second wave of COVID-19.
Although the intensity of breathlessness can vary among individuals, this symptom leaves most patients with a feeling of tightness of the chest, resulting in the constant gasping of air, every few seconds.
Studies suggest that breathing difficulties are commonly seen in the second wave of COVID-19 patients, right at the onset of the infection. The infection causes a decrease in oxygen saturation (SpO2 levels) which may result in lung damage and in some cases, even multiple organ failure.
Besides this, other newer symptoms of the second wave of COVID-19 infection, that you must be aware of include:
1. Gastrointestinal tract infections: Your GI tract comprises the main organs of digestion, including the mouth, food pipe, stomach/gut, small and large intestine. Any disturbances in your GI system can wear down your immunity and hamper overall health. Symptoms of GI tract infections associated with COVID-19 include loss of hunger, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loose stools.
2. Hearing loss: Hearing loss is one of the symptoms in the second wave of COVID-19 infection. It may range from mild, moderate to severe which results in a sudden hearing loss, impaired hearing, or ringing sound in your ears (tinnitus). This starts early in the first week of infection and resolves over a period of time.
3. Extreme lethargy and weakness: Extreme weakness and lethargy have been reported as one of the early symptoms of the COVID-19 infection, more so during the second wave.
Once your body identifies the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) as an invader, it initiates the immune response to fight the virus, and this can result in the infected person feeling tired and weak.
4. Pink eye or conjunctivitis: Pink eye is an infection of the eye which results in the swelling of the outer transparent membrane (called the conjunctiva) of your eyelid and eyeball.
Common symptoms include itching, redness, and tearing of the eyes, which results in puffy or watery eyes.
Certain studies have explored the link between COVID-19 and ophthalmological (relating to the eye) symptoms. The COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted through infected droplets in the air when someone sneezes, speaks or coughs. You can also pick the virus from infected surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, increasing the probability of infections of the eye, along with the nose and mouth.
The new strains of the novel coronavirus in India are known to infect the conjunctiva. Unlike normal conjunctivitis, which usually affects both your eyes, conjunctivitis with COVID-19 is seen predominantly in one eye. It may be accompanied by constant eye irritation and sensitivity to light.
5. Dry mouth or not enough saliva: Saliva is the watery, frothy substance produced in your mouth that helps in digestion and keeps your teeth and mouth moist and healthy. When sufficient saliva is not produced by the concerned glands (salivary glands), it leads to a condition called dry mouth, which can lead to tooth and gum diseases and make you susceptible to infections. Dry mouth is now a common and initial symptom of COVID-19. Since the oral cavity (mouth) is a potential entry point for the novel coronavirus, it can attack the tissues and mucus lining your oral cavity, resulting in decreased saliva production and thus, dry mouth. Like the dry mouth, other oral manifestations of the coronavirus infection could be a dry tongue, changes in the colour and texture of your tongue, sores or blisters, and difficulty in eating.
6. Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea or loose watery stools is one of the widespread symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients during the second wave. Reports suggest most individuals affected with COVID-19 complained of persistent diarrhoea for 1 to 14 days, with an average duration of 5 days. Since diarrhoea is not usually thought to be a symptom of COVID-19 and can be a result of other digestive issues, there is a delay in getting tested for COVID-19 and hence, a delay in the identification of potential COVID-19 positive patients.
7. Headache: Sudden headaches can be a symptom of COVID-19. A normal headache that continues for a long time and does not subside with painkillers, is being reported as one of the newer symptoms seen during the second COVID-19 wave.
8. Skin rashes: Recent studies have highlighted skin rashes as a new symptom of COVID-19. Patients have reported rashes on their hands and feet, which are usually called acral rashes. Studies suggest that these rashes can develop as a result of the immunological response to the virus.
If you develop any of the above symptoms, do not panic. It is advisable to isolate yourself from other family members and get yourself checked for COVID-19, after consulting your doctor.
Additionally, if you have difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest or chest pain, pale or blue-coloured skin, a sudden loss of speech or movement, or new confusion, seek medical care immediately.
9. Unexplained fatigue
Many people who tested positive for COVID-19 have reported feeling tired and fatigued prior to developing any other symptoms. In fact, in some cases, people don't have any other symptoms other than feeling fatugue and tired.