CDC adds nausea, diarrhea and congestion to COVID-19 symptoms list

CDC adds nausea, diarrhea and congestion to list of common coronavirus symptoms

  • In the pandemic’s earliest days, the CDC listed just three coronavirus symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath 
  • Now, that list has grown to 12 symptoms with the recent addition of three 
  • Diarrhea, nausea and congestion or runny nose were added, though it’s not completely clear when 
  • About a third of patients –  especially young ones – may have GI symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Approximately half of all new cases in the US are now being diagnosed in younger people  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appear to have added runny nose or sneezing, nausea and diarrhea to its list of coronavirus symptoms. 

It’s unclear when the three newest additions were tacked onto the agency’s now 12 item long list of signs of COVID-19. 

That means there now four-times as many potential indicators of the virus compared to the earliest days of the pandemic’s grip in the US, when officials only considered fever, coughing and shortness of breath credible evidence of coronavirus. 

Notably, gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and nausea, are more commonly reported by younger patients, among whom cases have been surging in recent weeks since states began reopening. 

The CDC has now added gastrointestinal symptoms of diarrhea and nausea to its list of coronavirus sign, alongside runny nose or congestion and nine previously listed symptoms (file)

CDC officials now count among the signs and symptoms of COVID-19:   

  1. Fever
  2. Chills
  3. Cough
  4. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  5. Fatigue
  6. Muscle or body aches
  7. Headache
  8. New loss of taste or smell
  9. Sore throat
  10. Congestion or runny nose
  11. Nausea or vomiting
  12. Diarrhea  

As scientists have studied coronavirus and doctors have seen more and more patients, it has become increasingly clear that the virus has many and varied effects upon the body. 

When the pandemic began, anyone without a fever was told they were unlikely to be infected. 

People who were without those first three primary symptoms or a very likely exposure to coronavirus were actively and adamantly discouraged from getting tested. 

One might expect that a disease’s list of symptoms and vulnerable people might narrow as more is learned about it, but coronavirus has tracked in the opposite direction. 

Last week, the CDC expanded its list of who is at-risk for coronavirus to include people with chronic conditions such as kidney disease, obesity, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes and sickle cell disease. 

Pregnant women, too, are now thought to be at greater risk of more severe infection. 

And as many as half of all people with coronavirus may be asymptomatic. 

Still, the inclusion of additional symptoms may boost the odds that Americans will recognize that they may be sick, get tested for coronavirus, and isolate themselves. 

Although coronavirus is a respiratory virus, researchers noted early on that gastrointestinal symptoms were common, but often missed in coronavirus patients.   

Stanford University scientists noted in an early April study that as many as a third of patients had diarrhea or nausea.   

These symptoms were more common among younger patients, who now make up about half of all new cases, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said last week 

Coronavirus becomes dangerous as it makes its way to the lower reaches of the lungs, triggering potentially life-threatening pneumonia, so doctors at first believed its upper respiratory effects were negligible. 

Now it’s clear that the nasal cavity is rich in the ACE2 receptors through which coronavirus infects cells and the CDC has included runny nose or congestion as symptoms of the infection.