Add this to the growing list of the coronavirus‘ awful toll on victims: a symptom that produces a strange buzzing sensation throughout their body.
The side effect, reported by patients sharing their symptoms on Twitter, is now being described as “fizzing,” and is one of the more mysterious marks of the illness. Doctors on the frontlines of treating the illness tell The Post it may be one of the last sensations patients feel as their bodies fight the disease.
Other symptoms of the deadly disease include a loss of smell and taste, fever, aches, breathlessness, fatigue, a dry cough, diarrhea, strokes and seizures, and for some, no symptoms at all.
But as more and more patients share the effects of the illness online, many are finding they have the strange new symptom, too. One patient, @miafia, who felt the sensation since the first day of her symptoms, described it as “an electric feeling on my skin.”
Tarana Burke, known as the founder of the #MeToo movement, shared that her partner had the illness and had a burning feeling on his skin that was so severe, “his skin felt like it was burning.”
“Even when he barely had a fever of 99+ we literally used aloe gel for sunburn to soothe it,” she wrote on Twitter. “The NP later told us she had heard others say that too.”
Even infamous influencer Arielle Charnas reported some “skin sensitivity” when she first came down with the virus.
Yes, ate a full meal yesterday. But still there are lingering ‘Covid’ feelings. Do you get that? Hard to describe the alien, dissociated buzz in some parts of my body. I’m fine, but there’s an element of exhaustion and physical wariness.
— Peter Jukes (@peterjukes) March 30, 2020
Doctors say the symptom is not terribly common, but may be part of an autoimmune response that effects patients’ nervous system.
“Clearly it’s been identified, but we’re just not sure yet how widespread it is,” Dr. Daniel Griffin, chief of infectious disease at ProHealth Care Associates, tells The Post.
Griffin, who estimates that he’s seen about 50 coronavirus a day since the outbreak took hold of New York, says he’s heard mention of the reaction.
There may be several reasons for it, he and others say. The feeling may be the result of disease-fighting “antibodies interfering with the way nerves work,” but adds that neurologists still aren’t sure if it’s our body’s response to the virus or the virus itself causing the feeling.
The sensation may also be tied to a fever, says Dr. Vipul Shah, Clinical Director at telehealth service Pack Health.
“If people aren’t used to having fevers, maybe their skin really does feel like an electric sensation,” he says. He advises using an aloe vera gel or mild lotion could help.
Griffin also suspects the reaction, or other cognitive reactions like it, may be a symptom of post-traumatic stress after patients recover from being in the ICU or on ventilators.
“People are used to being sick and then in a few days being all good,” he says. “This infection seems to have this tail to it — a lingering fatigue. There’s kind of a foggy, zombie-like state, where their eyes get glassy and they’re not quite as sharp.”
But the feeling alone may not be enough to go get tested, Shah says.
“It’s not a symptom that’s been well described yet, so just make sure you’re still following isolation procedures,” such as covering your mouth when you cough and washing your hands frequently, Shah says.
For patients experiencing the sensation, Griffin recommends letting the body recover on its own.
“It’s bothersome but benign,” he says. “[Patients’] cognition seems to be doing better with us just waiting. The human body is a pretty impressive construct and often will get better.”