Mysterious new long Covid symptom identified by scientists

The research detailed a new symptom of long Covid after a 33-year-old man was referred to a specialist clinic

Eleanor Noyce
Thursday 17 August 2023 08:57 BST
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A new symptom of long Covid has been revealed by scientists at the University of Leeds.

Though most people who contract Covid recover within a few days or weeks of experiencing initial symptoms, some people can experience longer, more persistent symptoms – termed long Covid or post Covid-19 syndrome by the NHS.

Until now, the most commonly identified symptoms have included extreme tiredness, loss of smell, muscle aches and shortness of breath. Others include memory problems, chest pain, insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, joint pain, tinnitus and depression and anxiety.

The 33-year-old patient experienced “rapid purple discolouration” on his legs
The 33-year-old patient experienced “rapid purple discolouration” on his legs (The Lancet/Manoj Sivan)

Now, a new study has revealed a previously unidentified symptom of long Covid.

Published in The Lancet medical journal, the research detailed a new symptom of the condition after a 33-year-old man was referred to the specialists’ clinic.

The patient had a six-month history of what the authors describe as a “rapid purple discolouration” on his legs. When standing, he remarked that they would feel progressively heavier and become “tingly, itchy and dusky” in colour.

He added that a rash would occasionally appear on his feet, but that the mysterious symptoms would disappear when laying down.

The disorder is known as acrocyanosis or persistent and extreme blue or cyanotic discolouration. It typically occurs in the hands and feet but can also appear across the nose and ears.

“This was a striking case of acrocyanosis in a patient who had not experienced it before his Covid-19 infection”, co-author Dr Manoj Sivan, associate clinical professor and honorary consultant in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Leeds told Metro.

“Patients experiencing this may not be aware that it can be a symptom of long Covid and dysautonomia, and may feel concerned about what they are seeing. Similarly, clinicians may not be aware of the link between acrocyanosis and long Covid.

“We need to ensure that there is more awareness of dysautonomia [malfunctioning of the nervous system] in long COVID so that clinicians have the tools they need to manage patients appropriately.”

The NHS currently offers a long Covid service which aims to identify the condition through blood tests, blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, chest X-rays or by measuring oxygen levels. Those with severe symptoms might be referred to a specialist service or a rehabilitation service.

The severity of a Covid case does not appear to be linked to the chances of developing long Covid, with people who initially experienced mild symptoms similarly suspectable to long-term problems.

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