Fever-Cough-GI Issues: Scientists Decode Order of COVID Symptoms

2 min read

A new study has found a pattern in COVID-19 symptoms, that can help doctors and patients rule out other diseases faster.

The study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Public Health, lists the likely order of COVID-19 symptoms as:

  1. Fever,
  2. Then cough and muscle pain,
  3. Then nausea, and/or vomiting, and diarrhea

Doctors can take these findings and help advice patients to isolate sooner so that they can prevent their condition from worsening, reported PTI. This study can also help lessen the chances of a misdiagnosis.

“This order is especially important to know when we have overlapping cycles of illnesses like the flu that coincide with infections of COVID-19.” 
Peter Kuhn, study author a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC)

The study authors added that most patients experienced diarrhea as a later symptom, although some did experience it at the start of their infection.

“The highest reported symptom is fever, followed by cough or dyspnea, and then finally, a small percent of patients reported diarrhea. This order confirms the most likely paths that we have determined.”

The scientists used two large datasets to determine their results. One was looking at more than 55,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China, all of which were collected from February 16 to 24 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Another was nearly 1,100 cases collected from December 11, 2019 through January 29, 2020, by the China Medical Treatment Expert Group via the National Health Commission of China.

They also compared it to other coronaviruses, adding that, fever and cough are were the main indicators of various respiratory illnesses, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However for COVID-19 the timing and symptoms in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract set the novel virus apart.

“The first two symptoms of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS are fever and cough. However, the upper GI tract (nausea/vomiting) seems to be affected before the lower GI tract (diarrhea) in COVID-19, which is the opposite from MERS and SARS.”
Study authors.

(With intus from PTI and NDTV)

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