The 3 Strangest Covid-19 Symptoms Explained
Anosmia, ‘happy hypoxia,’ and blood clots: What scientists know and don’t know
The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event in modern medical practice, and health care providers are seeing extraordinary numbers of severely ill people. Many providers think the novel coronavirus is causing the human body to behave in weird ways. In some cases, they may be right — but not in all of them.
Some of the side effects associated with Covid-19 are unusual symptoms for a respiratory infection while others are simply being observed by doctors more often because of the sheer number of people infected. As the pandemic unfolds, both physicians and the public are struggling to differentiate between the two as a way to better understand the virus. Below are three symptoms that have received recent attention.
Easily clotting blood
In a prepublication study recounting the autopsy findings of 20 people in Louisiana who died from Covid-19, the authors described clotting in the small blood vessels of many patients’ lungs. A group of Dutch scientists also described a series of hospitalized people who had clotting complications; most of those complications were in the veins of the lungs.
The process of clot formation in human blood involves hundreds, if not thousands, of proteins and cells. Doctors who specialize in blood diseases can usually identify the cause of a clotting disorder by looking for patterns in blood tests that measure those proteins and cells’ abundance.
But the clotting that accompanies many severe Covid-19 infections evades that effort. Blood tests in people with these infections “don’t fit into the usual patterns,” says Adrienne Phillips, MD, a specialist in hematology and oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. This makes it hard to determine the root cause of clotting in these people, which in turn makes it difficult to make broad recommendations for preventing or treating those clots.