In addition to the growing list of strange possible symptoms of the new coronavirus that include fever, congestion issues, loss of taste and smell, etc. The newest symptom some are calling: “Covid tongue.”
A British researcher who is helping to track Covid-19 warning signs is reporting more cases of infected people complaining of tongue discoloration, enlargement and other mouth problems.
“Seeing increasing numbers of Covid tongues and strange mouth ulcers…” Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, tweeted.
Spector believes more than a third of COVID-19 patients, 35 percent, have non-classic symptoms of the disease in the first three days, so it’s important to draw attention to skin rashes, Covid toes and other warning signs that “go ignored,” he wrote.
He estimates fewer than 1 in 500 patients have “COVID tongue.” The main symptoms he hears about are a “furry coating” of the tongue that can be white or yellow and can’t be brushed away, and a scalloped tongue. The condition can be painful.
“It’s a good reminder that there are so many different manifestations of this virus rather than just the classical ones,” Spector, who is the lead investigator of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study that allows people to report symptoms via an app, told NBC News.
“The whole question of why we have this huge range of symptoms of the virus is still unknown.”
Until there’s more data, it’s too early to add “COVID tongue” to any official symptom lists, but dentists, oral surgeons and other doctors looking inside people’s mouths should be aware it might be one of the early signs of infection, he noted.
Other researchers have also reported tongue and mouth symptoms linked with the new coronavirus.
When doctors studied 666 patients with Covid‐19 in Spain, more than a tenth of them — 78 — exhibited “oral cavity findings,” according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Of that group, 11 percent had inflammation of the small bumps on the tongue’s surface; 6 percent had a swollen and inflamed tongue with indentations on the side; 6 percent had mouth ulcers; 4 percent had “patchy” areas on the tongue; and 4 percent had tissue swelling in the mouth.
People are Sharing their Pictures of COVID Tongue
People on social media are starting to speak out as well.
In the COVID-19 Facebook group Survivor Corps, a grassroots organization of COVID-19 patients, many have shared oral symptoms that they say coincided with their testing positive for the coronavirus. Carol Van Der Spuy, a marketing manager in Cape Town, South Africa, said she noticed the symptoms when she tested positive for COVID-19 a second time. “I had big patches on [my tongue] which were a different color,” she says. “It almost looks like it has been ‘burned clean.’”
New Yorker Martha Barrera says she developed symptoms two weeks after getting COVID-19 in March. “My tongue swelled up,” she tells Yahoo Life. “It was painful and so sensitive and I could not tolerate anything cold or hot. It also was white … didn’t matter how many times I brushed, the color was different. The doctor didn’t know what to do, so he prescribed thrush medication for three weeks. Ten months later, my tongue swells up out of the blue. I still have issues.”
Signs that are NOT ‘COVID Tongue’
There are a number of strange signs and symptoms that can appear on your tongue. At first glance, these symptoms may seem scary, but it could be something totally different.
A smoother than normal tongue might be a sign you’re skimping on nutrients like iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, the National Institutes of Health reported. Alternately, if skin cells build up on the normal bumps of the tongue, the tongue can have