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COVID Symptoms No One Talks About But Should

No, it’s not just you.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

At this point in the pandemic, the common symptoms of COVID-19 are more than familiar—but there are some very alarming symptoms not getting attention when they should be. "How many people may develop long COVID? We can only guess," says Anthony L. Komaroff, MD. "Early studies indicate that one in ten people with COVID-19 may develop long COVID that lasts at least a year. Ultimately, how long these illnesses last remains to be determined. For this and many other reasons, the strain on the American health care system and economy from the pandemic will not end soon." Here are five COVID-19 symptoms no one talks about, but really should. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Erectile Dysfunction

Sad man sitting on a bed, girlfriend in the background.
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There is growing research connecting COVID-19 with erectile dysfunction—one study shows that men with the virus are over three times more likely to be diagnosed with ED than those who aren't sick. "The receptor that the coronavirus binds to is abundant on the penis and testes," says Joseph Katz, D.M.D. "The virus can bind to those areas. And research has shown that COVID can reduce the amount of testosterone produced. The loss of testosterone has been shown to put someone at risk of having a more severe outcome from COVID-19."

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2

Long-Term GI Issues

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Some people find themselves dealing with gastrointestinal issues for several months after even a mild case of COVID-19, doctors say. "You can have loss of appetite from gastrointestinal symptoms and bowel issues like diarrhea, which can stay on," says Devang Sanghavi, MD.

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3

Personality Changes and Rage

Female driver sits at wheel in car, touches her head.
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Experts are warning of severe personality changes as a symptom of long COVID. "A number of people came out of the experience [of severe illness] with PTSD," says Adam Kaplin, MD, Ph.D. "And when they went home, they were irritable and not their normal selves, and didn't understand why they didn't just bounce back to being the way they were before… It's not the virus that's the problem — it's the immune response to the virus that causes the trouble. But my strong message would be that it's not a personal weakness, you're not crazy, and there really is a biology to this, in both directions."

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4

Obesity

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Because COVID-19 impacts fat cells directly, there are long-term implications for people who are overweight or obese. One study shows obesity is directly linked to ongoing complications. "To our knowledge, this current study for the first time suggests that patients with moderate to severe obesity are at a greater risk of developing long-term complications of COVID-19 beyond the acute phase," says Ali Aminian, M.D., director of Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric & Metabolic Institute and principal investigator of the research.

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5

Significantly Lower IQ

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There is growing evidence that COVID-19 may cause IQ to drop substantially. "By coincidence, the pandemic escalated in the United Kingdom in the middle of when I was collecting cognitive and mental health data at very large scale as part of the BBC2 Horizon collaboration the Great British Intelligence Test," says Adam Hampshire, an associate professor in the Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory at Imperial College London. "We need to be careful as it looks like the virus could be affecting our cognition. We do not fully understand how, why, or for how long, but we urgently need to find out. In the meantime, don't take unnecessary risks and do get vaccinated."

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6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan