COVID-19 symptoms often appear in this order, according to a new study

Researchers from the University of Southern California say they have found that the symptoms of COVID-19 tends to appear in a specific order, a discovery that could help enable earlier detection and treatment for numerous patients.

“This is a good guide for species,” Drs. Bob Lahita, a professor of medicine who is not affiliated with the study, told CBSN anchor Anne-Marie Green. “We can safely say, study like they did. I think it was 55,000 patients from China. They looked at the data and looked at the symptoms and found that this order was quite reproducible.”

According to the study, published in the medical journal Frontier Public Health, the most likely sequence of symptoms is as follows: fever, then cough and muscle aches, followed by nausea and / or vomiting, and then diarrhea.

“Fever is number one, followed by cough, followed by aches and pains – and they don’t all have to appear in sequence, they can appear together,” said Lahita of the first group of symptoms. Then, he said, comes nausea and vomiting, followed by diarrhea.

Not all patients experience the same set of symptoms. But the new findings help underscore how COVID-19 differs from other known diseases. While fever and cough are also associated with a number of other illnesses, such as the flu, the study notes that it was the timing at which these symptoms appeared, and the latter gastrointestinal symptoms, that sets this virus apart.

In a press release about the study, USC scientist Peter Kuhn said that understanding the sequence of virus symptoms is useful in “overlapping cycles of diseases” such as the upcoming flu season.

“Physicians can determine what steps to take to care for the patient, and they can prevent the patient’s condition from deteriorating,” Kuhn said.

To discover the sequence, the USC researchers, led by doctoral candidate Joseph Larsen, examined medical records and other data collected on more than 55,000 cases of coronavirus in China over a span of nine days in February, along with a set of more than 1,000 cases from December to January. They also compared their findings with data on 2,470 influenza cases in North America, Europe and the Southern Hemisphere from 1994 to 1998.

“It’s important to have this information,” Lahita said. “Besides the things we’re all talking about loss of odor and loss of taste, again – fever, cough, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and then diarrhea are very good indicators of the fact that you may have COVID-19. ”