Researchers Identify Order of COVID-19 Symptoms

Knowing the order in which the symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 manifest can help physicians make a more accurate diagnosis.

Researchers have identified the likely order that symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will manifest among infected patients, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Public Health.

The likely order of COVID-19 symptoms are fever, followed by cough, muscle pain, nausea—with or without vomiting—and diarrhea. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 771,000 deaths and there has been more than 21,756,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Knowing the order in which symptoms appear may help people decide to self-isolate sooner and make it easier for physicians to identify the illness, according to the study authors.

The study was composed of WHO symptom data from more than 55,000 cases of COVID-19 in China between February 16 and February 24. The data were supplemented with a data set from the National Health Commission of China. This set included 1100 cases that occurred between December 11, 2019, and January 29, 2019. Researchers then compared COVID-19 symptoms to 2470 cases of influenza reported in North America, Europe, and the Southern Hemisphere between 1994 and 1998.

The study authors found that fever and cough are associated with a variety of respiratory illnesses, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome. However, it’s the gastrointestinal tract symptoms that set COVID-19 apart. The study authors said that knowing this will help physicians and patients.

"This order is especially important to know when we have overlapping cycles of illnesses like the flu that coincide with infections of COVID-19…Doctors can determine what steps to take to care for the patient, and they may prevent the patient's condition from worsening," study co-author Peter Kuhn, PhD, University of Southern California professor of medicine, biomedical engineering, and aerospace and mechanical engineering, said in the press release.

Reference:

Scientists identify the order of COVID-19's symptoms (Press release), Los Angeles CA, August 13, 2020, ScienceDaily, Accessed August 18, 2020