COVID-19 has thrown a curve ball at scientists when it comes to what symptoms people who have the disease actually are experiencing. Just today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the list of potential symptoms on their website. Prior to the change, there have been only three symptoms listed, which are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Now, the list includes chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste/smell. The CDC also recommends that if a person has sudden confusion, can’t be aroused or if their lips or face turn a bluish color, they need immediate medical help.

These changes came after the Center for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) issued new guidelines regarding how cases should be identified. The recommendations are that cases should be reported not only if there are positive lab tests, but if there are clinical symptoms. The guidelines break down the symptoms into several categories. One includes people who have cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. A different grouping contains individuals who have two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, shivers, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste and smell. If a person falls into either category, they should be considered to have COVID-19 if there is no other credible diagnosis.

As the virus is continuing to be studied and better understood, there is one fact that is clear when you look at the data. Women are better able to fight off the infection than men. Pregnant women have been found to only have mild symptoms if they contract the disease. These data points have led scientists to speculate that female hormones may be the reason why. Currently, there are two clinical trials being conducted, one at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University on Long Island and the other at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. The basic thought is to give men who have the virus female hormones for a limited time period in hopes of providing them with a better chance at surviving. The studies are both looking at female hormones, but the Stony Brook study is looking at estrogen; whereas, the Cedars-Sinai study is looking at progesterone. It’s too early to tell what, if any, impact this could have. The researchers say that results should be available within the next few months.