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Early COVID-19 symptoms may differ depending on your age

Experts say your gender may also play a role

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Photo (c) da-kuk - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from King’s College London explored how age may play a role in consumers’ COVID-19 symptoms

According to their findings, COVID-19 symptoms can be drastically different for those younger than 60 years old and those older than 60 years old. The team said symptoms may also differ for both men and women. 

“It’s important people know the earliest symptoms are wide-ranging and may look different for each member of a family or household,” said researcher Claire Steves. “Testing guidance could be updated to enable cases to be picked up earlier, especially in the face of new variants which are highly transmissible.”

Identifying early symptoms

For the study, the researchers analyzed reports from consumers about early symptoms they experienced after being infected with COVID-19. They found that different age groups reported different early symptoms of COVID-19, and they noted the biggest differences in those aged 16-59 and those aged 60-80. The study showed that diarrhea was a common early symptom for those in the older group, while loss of smell was more prevalent in the younger group. 

There were also differences in early symptoms between men and women. The researchers learned that women were more likely to report a loss of smell and chest pains, while men experienced chills and shortness of breath. Overall, early symptoms of COVID-19 included blisters on the feet, persistent cough, unusual muscle pain, loss of smell, abdominal pain, and eye soreness. 

The researchers hope both consumers and health care professionals can use these findings to better identify those who may be presenting with early symptoms of COVID-19. This can be helpful in determining who needs to get tested and when consumers should stay home to slow the spread of the virus. 

“As part of our study, we have been able to identify that the profile of symptoms due to COVID-19 differs from one group to another,” said researcher Dr. Marc Modat. “This suggests that the criteria to encourage people to get tested should be personalized using individuals’ information such as age. Alternatively, a larger set of symptoms could be considered, so the different manifestations of the disease across different groups are taken into account.” 

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