8 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore During COVID-19

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Woman working from home with mask and holding forehead with headache

    Due to the widespread reach of COVID-19, many people have chosen not to keep doctor appointments or seek medical care, mostly in an effort to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. However, medical experts encourage everyone to keep regular appointments to monitor their health and seek emergency care if experiencing serious symptoms. Waiting to get the care you need could have life-threatening consequences that could be avoided.

  • 1
    Sudden or severe pain
    Midsection Of Man Suffering From Stomachache At Home

    Sudden or severe pain usually indicates a more serious condition, particularly if it doesn’t go away quickly. For instance, sudden pain in various areas of the abdomen could be a result of appendicitis, a ruptured ovarian cyst, a perforated ulcer, or diverticulitis. Chest pain may not necessarily be the result of a heart attack, but it could be something equally serious, so it’s important to see a doctor right away for evaluation and necessary treatment.

  • 2
    Uncontrolled bleeding
    Doctor applying gauze to child's arm, cropped view

    If you start bleeding due to an injury, cut or nosebleed, and it won’t stop with regular pressure for 15 minutes, it’s important to seek out medical care right away. Uncontrolled bleeding is the No. 1 cause of preventable death from trauma, according to Stop the Bleed, a national awareness campaign from the Department of Homeland Security. Some bleeds are not readily apparent, but there may be signs of a problem, such as neurological symptoms or bloody urine or stool. Not only is it important to stop the bleeding, but also determine the cause of the bleeding in order to effectively treat it.

  • 3
    Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
    Caucasian woman on floor next to toilet in home bathroom with nausea and vomiting

    Vomiting or diarrhea could be symptoms of such ailments as upset stomach, stress, food poisoning, or travel. However, if it doesn’t improve after taking over-the-counter medicine or lasts more than 24 hours, contact your doctor. Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea also could be symptoms of more serious conditions, such as a peptic ulcer, Salmonella, a viral infection, or a gastrointestinal infection. Medical evaluation can help rule out more serious causes and treatment may help prevent damage due to ongoing or severe vomiting or diarrhea.

  • 4

    If you or someone you know experiences a seizure and has not been diagnosed with a seizure disorder, it’s important to seek medical care right away. While seizures often can be treated with medication, a physical exam and comprehensive neurological evaluation may identify the cause. Seizures may be caused by high fever, head trauma, stroke, brain tumor, certain medications, and low blood sodium levels. However, the cause of a seizure often is unknown.

  • 5
    Black male under stress with headache

    In most cases, you recognize when you have a routine headache that could be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, if you start to have a headache after hitting your head or in tandem with other symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness or slurred speech, you should seek out medical care right away. If your headache pain is more severe than anything you’ve experienced before, this could be indicative of an oncoming migraine or something more serious like a brain bleed due to aneurysm or stroke.

  • 6
    Difficulty speaking
    Son helping father having chest pain or stroke symptoms

    If you start to slur your speech or find it difficult to speak, call 911 for immediate medical care. This could be a symptom of nervous system disorders, stroke, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or brain tumor, among other conditions and diseases. If due to a stroke, remember that “time is brain.” The sooner you seek care, the sooner your doctor can determine the cause (such as a blood clot in the brain) and start treatment. It may take a series of diagnostic tests to find the cause; these include imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan, blood and urine tests, and a brain biopsy.

  • 7
    Confusion or concussion
    Senior woman receiving help on care home

    If you experience sudden or severe onset of confusion or symptoms of a concussion like loss of balance, an unexplained loss of consciousness or clumsiness, call 911 or ask someone to take you to your local emergency room. The cause could be a concussion, injury, dehydration, infections, or the result of certain medications. Prompt medical care can help prevent permanent problems. It may be as simple as changing medications to addressing something more serious, such as stroke.

  • 8
    Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    High Angle View Of Woman With Chest Pain Lying On Bed

    Although difficulty breathing or shortness of breath is a symptom of COVID-19, it also could indicate other medical ailments, such as a severe lung infection or an allergic reaction. If breathing problems started suddenly, are severe, result in blue lips or fingertips, affect the ability to talk, or are accompanied by vomiting, nausea, chest pain or fainting, you need to see a doctor right away. If you already suffer from a respiratory condition, consult with your doctor in advance to determine when you should go to the emergency room if experiencing difficulty breathing.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 4
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Dysarthria. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dysarthria/symptoms-causes/syc-20371994
  2. When to Seek Emergency Care. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/blog/2020/04/17/when-to-seek-emergency-care.html
  3. Getting Care When It Is Not Coronavirus-related. Scripps Health. https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6939-getting-care-when-it-is-not-coronavirus-related
  4. When to Go to the ER: 15 Symptoms. StoneSprings Hospital Center. https://stonespringshospital.com/blog/entry/when-to-go-to-the-er-15-symptoms
  5. What Everyone Should Know to Stop Bleeding After An Injury. Stop the Bleed. https://www.stopthebleed.org/
  6. Seizures. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20365711