EXPERTS are warning of unusual Covid symptoms and when to seek emergency treatment as the omicron variant continues to spread in the US.
While fever, cough, and shortness of breath are common signs of a possible coronavirus infection, other strange symptoms are being attributed to the virus.
Doctors say one of the first signs of the omicron variant in particular can be a scratchy throat, followed by headache and fatigue.
Though someone infected with Covid may not experience any of the following symptoms, it's important to be aware that they could be signs of an infection.
Vaccine effectiveness & Omicron
Expert studies have shown that the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is reduced by 90 percent or more among people who are fully vaccinated.
While there are breakthrough cases of Covid among people who are vaccinated, they are rare.
In the event of a breakthrough case, victims are highly unlikely to be hospitalized with severe or deadly symptoms from the virus.
Health officials have advised that the Omicron variant is more infectious and could lead to further breakthrough cases.
Yet the spread can be offset by all vaccinated Americans receiving a booster shot.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.
With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.
Studies have also shown that side effects from the vaccine are extremely rare.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
One of the most unusual side effects reported since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has been so-called Covid toes.
They turn red and purple and swell, burn, and itch. Your hands can be affected too and the condition can last weeks or months, doctors say.
The symptom is an inflammatory skin condition that, outside of Covid infections, is often seen after someone is exposed to extremely cold conditions.
“The good news is, they do go away,” dermatologist Esther Freeman told AARP.
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The director of Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health Dermatology and assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School said the majority of people with Covid toes develop them well after infection or without other symptoms.
“We’re not seeing that this is going to cause permanent damage,” Freeman said.
Rashes, including the sudden onset of itchy hives, have also been reported in Covid patients.
Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss have been reported in a number of patients across age groups.
“There’s no question at this point that GI symptoms can be a manifestation of Covid-19,” William Chey, M.D., professor of gastroenterology and nutrition sciences at the University of Michigan, told AARP.
The symptoms can come on without the more typical and recognized markers of a coronavirus infection, such as fever and cough, the doctor said.
Experts explained that stomach issues can come from the virus infecting cells that line the GI tract, or as a result of your body fighting the infection.
If you experience a sudden onset of these symptoms, you're encouraged to check with your doctor.
One omicron side effect doctors are seeing is night sweats, with Covid sufferers reporting waking up to soaked sheets.
Doctor Davey Smith, UCSD Chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, told local CBS affiliate KFMB that it is a "very strange" symptom that accompanies a "bucket of crazy symptoms" attributed to the virus.
One patient told the news station that the sweats lasted four nights.
"My giant forehead was covered in sweat. My pillow looked like a glass of water had been spilled onto it and the sheets were soaked," Jason Borgmann said.
Borgmann also noted another unusual symptom in his daughter, who was complaining about lower back pain.
Doctor Smith said symptoms shouldn't be ignored, even if you think you may be suffering from only the common cold.
Pale or discolored skin
Pale, grey, or blue colored skin is a warning sign of omicron that doctors are urging people to look out for.
They say the rare complication in serious Covid cases means oxygen levels in the blood are low.
The CDC called it an "emergency warning sign" and said people should seek help immediately if you notice the change in color, along with trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, inability to stay awake, or new confusion.
While headaches, dizziness, and confusion are common symptoms of the virus, AARP detailed an alarming side effect reported by some people who were diagnosed.
Some patients without a history of mental health issues were said to experience mild to severe hallucinations.
Doctors said the symptom could be because of low levels of oxygen going to the brain, or a result of the virus' direct attack on the brain.
Hallucinations and delusions usually fade with the infection, experts said.
Another side effect to be aware of is myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.
AARP cited a May 2021 study of almost 1,600 US college athletes who had Covid that found 2.3percent developed myocarditis, which causes damage and can lead to serious health problems, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Doctor Saurabh Rajpal, assistant professor of cardiology at The Ohio State University, said if you had Covid and start to notice chest pain, shortness of breath, or a racing heart while doing the same level of exercise that you did before your infection, call your doctor and get checked out.
Blood clots are another troubling symptom doctors have noted, along with high blood sugar in some older adults.
Researchers are also looking into a possible connection between Covid and hearing loss, AARP reports.
When to seek treatment
Because omicron symptoms can be mistaken for the common cold or flu, doctors urge anyone experiencing them to isolate until symptoms subside.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided a list of emergency warning signs that need immediate emergency medical care:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
Anyone suffering from these symptoms is urged to call 911 or your local emergency facility.
Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have Covid, the CDC advised.
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