Chills, a loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches could be additional symptoms of coronavirus.
A study of more than one million people in England revealed these symptoms are potentially linked to Covid-19. The research is based on swab tests and questionnaires collected between June 2020 and January 2021 as part of the Imperial College’s London-led React study.
The four new symptoms were noted in addition to the classic symptoms recognised by the NHS: losing your sense of smell and taste, a fever and a new persistent cough.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, also found there was a variation in symptoms with age.
Chills were linked with positive tests across all ages in the study, but headaches were reported in young people aged five to 17 most frequently. Appetite loss was more prominent in adults than children or teenagers. Muscle aches were mostly reported in people aged between 18 and 54.
The researchers estimate that if everyone who had classic symptoms were tested, it would pick up around half of all symptomatic infections.
But they say if the additional symptoms were included, this could be improved to three-quarters of symptomatic infections.
“These new findings suggest many people with Covid-19 won’t be getting tested – and therefore won’t be self-isolating – because their symptoms don’t match those used in current public health guidance to help identify infected people,” said Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme at Imperial.
“We understand there is a need for clear testing criteria, and that including lots of symptoms which are commonly found in other illnesses like seasonal flu could risk people self-isolating unnecessarily.
“I hope that our findings on the most informative symptoms mean that the testing programme can take advantage of the most up-to-date evidence, helping to identify more infected people.”