No Fever Or Cough? Remember, Testing Recommended For Other Virus Symptoms, Too | KERA News

No Fever Or Cough? Remember, Testing Recommended For Other Virus Symptoms, Too

May 15, 2020

Cesar Varon of Dallas had coronavirus early on in the outbreak. His initial symptoms didn’t seem strange at all.

“So technically my first symptoms were, like, very similar to an allergy,” he said. “Nothing different than that.”

Varon lost his voice, had diarrhea and a mild fever. He works in health care, as an eligibility manager at Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, and was aware the coronavirus was going around. So he asked his doctor for a COVID-19 test. 

Before he even got results back, his body changed again.

“My energy went to zero,” he said. “Like somebody took away all my energy.”

When coronavirus gained widespread public attention in the United States, the message from government health experts was to call a doctor if you had symptoms, which could be  fever, cough or shortness of breath. 

That list expanded in late April, which means your original understanding of when to seek medical attention might need a revision.

The Centers for Disease Control said COVID-19 symptoms, in addition to cough, fever, and shortness of breath, can include muscle pain, a sore throat, nausea and diarrhea – things not commonly associated with a respiratory illness.

Dr. LaTasha Jarrett, chief medical officer at North Texas Area Community Health Centers, said people had always been reporting these symptoms. Official guidance eventually recognized that. 

“That small list has grown and we are seeing patients with those complaints as well,” she said.

Jarrett relies on updates from the CDC to determine how to treat potential COVID-19 patients, and said patients are understanding when guidance changes.

Almost a third of 116 coronavirus patients in one early California study had gastrointestinal symptoms.

Cesar Varon is better now. His advice? Don’t discount what your body tells you.

“Don’t ignore anything just thinking that it’s nothing, because it’s very easy to do that.” he said.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at bjaspers@kera.org. You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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