Five odd COVID symptoms doctors are warning about
It's been over two years since the start of the pandemic, and doctors are still discovering strange new COVID-19 symptoms in their patients.
"The long duration and broad range of symptoms reminds us that the problem is not going away, and we need to do more to support and protect these patients in the long term," says Michele Spinicci, MD.
"Future research should focus on the potential impacts of variants of concern and vaccination status on ongoing symptoms."
Here are five odd COVID symptoms doctors are warning about.
Some patients have been experiencing frightening hallucinations as a result of COVID-19, doctors say. "While we wait for the hallucinations to go away, we give patients reassurance, tell them they're in a safe place and they're not losing their minds," says Eric B. Larson, clinical neuropsychologist at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois.
"Some patients are so scared by the memories of seeing things that were not real that they have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder," Larson said.
A growing number of people are reporting hearing issues after being infected with COVID-19, with some suffering permanent hearing loss. "Our study showed evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can directly infect the inner ear," says Stanford University otolaryngologist Konstantina Stankovic.
Anxiety and Depression
Doctors are noticing a severe uptick in the number of patients reporting anxiety and depression after getting COVID-19. "The information we have now about the impact of COVID-19 on the world's mental health is just the tip of the iceberg," says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations' mental health."
Research shows that men with COVID-19 are three times as likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction compared to those who aren't sickened by the virus. "Erectile dysfunction can be a marker of overall health," says urologist Ryan Berglund, MD.
"So particularly for young and healthy people who abruptly develop erectile dysfunction, and especially after having COVID-19, this can be a sign of something more serious going on. There have been studies showing that perhaps there are cardiovascular effects and other medical effects appearing from COVID-19, but the answer is that it's just too early to tell what exactly all of the long-term effects are. We know there are a number of different ways that the virus could cause erectile dysfunction, but much more research is needed before we know for sure."
Brain Fog and Memory Loss
Brain fog and other neurological issues are particularly associated with long COVID, doctors warn. "In many cases, brain fog is temporary and gets better on its own," says Tamara Fong, MD, Ph.D.
"However, we don't really understand why brain fog happens after COVID-19, or how long these symptoms are likely to last. But we do know that this form of brain fog can affect different aspects of cognition… People struggling with the effects of long COVID may have noticeable problems with attention, memory, and executive function.
Studies report these issues both in people who were not hospitalized with COVID and in those who were, as well as in people who had severe cases. These findings raise some important questions about how COVID-19 infection affects cognition."