WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added six novel coronavirus symptoms to its list, suggesting that health experts are learning more about the growing number of ways physicians see the virus affecting patients.

The new symptoms, which the CDC reports could appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, are:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Previously, the CDC listed just three known symptoms: shortness of breath, cough and fever.

The additions confirm what patients and doctors have been reporting anecdotally for weeks. In particular, the loss of taste or smell has been known to appear in patients since at least mid-March when a British group of ear, nose and throat doctors published a statement amid growing concern that it could be an early indicator or a sign that someone is infected but otherwise asymptomatic.

A study of European covid-19 patients found that between 85.6% and 88% of patients “reported olfactory and gustatory dysfunctions, respectively.” In an Iranian study, 76% of covid-19 patients who reported a loss of smell said it had a sudden onset. In many of the cases, anosmia, as it’s called, appeared before other symptoms.

“It scared the hell out of me,” said Vallery Lomas, a 34-year-old champion baker, who feared that she would never get her senses of smell and taste back. “I could smell nothing for probably five days.”

Lomas was presumed positive for covid-19 in the midst of writing a cookbook. Smell and taste are intertwined, so some people who think they have lost both senses may have only lost their sense of smell.

“What happens with loss of the sense of smell is you lose flavor,” but not taste, said Jo Shapiro, a professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.

Though not listed on the CDC website, fatigue has also been reported in people who have either tested positive, or who have been told to assume they have covid-19 when testing was not available.

Hedy Bauman told NBC News that the fatigue hit her like a truck. Even reading was exhausting, she said.

“My bathroom is maybe 15 steps from my bed,” Bauman told NBC News. “I wasn’t sure I could get from the bathroom to my bed.”

Bauman told NBC she had chills, but no fever.

Early reports of the virus suggested that it caused standard respiratory symptoms, though it is extremely contagious and deadly. But over the past few weeks, health experts have noted how covid-19 attacks many organs in the body.

In some patients, physicians are reporting a blood-clotting complication that does not respond to anticoagulants. Some patients’ lungs are filled with hundreds of microclots, autopsies have shown, and larger clots can break off and travel to the brain or heart, causing a stroke or heart attack.

Evidence from the more than 80,000 coronavirus cases that have been reported in China indicates that symptoms in about 80% of patients are mild. The additional symptoms could make it easier for people to know when to ask for a test, and it could help physicians determine when patients need to be tested or at least be told to assume they have it and self-isolate.

The CDC continues to recommend managing your symptoms at home unless they include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure on the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

The Washington Post’s Michael Brice-Saddler, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Marisa Iati contributed to this report.


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