News outlets are reporting that other people are reporting that COVID-19 may cause something called “restless anal syndrome.” What is restless anal syndrome, you ask? Forbes describes it as “a variant of restless legs syndrome,” a disorder in which you may feel a strong urge to move the affected body art, the affected body part may feel sore or painful, and the pain worsens with rest, among other symptoms.
Well, imagine that uncomfortable experience, but applied to an anus. Specifically, the anus of a 77-year-old Japanese man a few weeks after he was discharged from hospitalization for COVID, as written up in publications such as the Daily Mail, Jerusalem Post, Business Insider, the New York Post, The Blaze, the Daily Wire, IFLScience, and Entrepreneur (English and Spanish).
The man’s case was published in a BMC Infectious Diseases report written by doctors at Tokyo University Hospital. According to the paper, he “gradually began to experience restless, deep anal discomfort, approximately 10 cm from the perineal region.” This feeling was not relieved by pooping. The doctors found that he had internal hemorrhoids, but no other apparent issues. The seizure medication Clonazepam alleviated his restless anal syndrome.
So let’s review: One man, who was elderly, found that his anal region hurt, weeks after he had recovered from COVID symptoms. This is the only reported case so far. (Did we mention he was elderly?)
Here is how this was reported by some of the brave warriors of our beautiful industry:
- COVID-19’s latest bizarre side effect: ‘Restless anal syndrome’
- Covid-infected man, 77, develops 'restless anal syndrome' which left him unable to sit still (and going to the toilet didn't help...)
- COVID may cause 'restless anal syndrome' - report
And yet, a hero emerges. Here is the infectious disease expert that Health Magazine contacted for its write-up of the anus, sensibly headlined “A Man Developed 'Restless Anus Syndrome' After Contracting COVID—Here's What You Need to Know.”
It’s easy to read about this man's case and panic that it will happen to you if you contract COVID-19. But infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health that’s unlikely.
“I’ve personally never seen anything like this,” he says. “Restless leg syndrome has been reported as a rare complication of COVID-19 in some case reports, and this is an even rarer variant.”
As for why this might have happened, Dr. Adalja says that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to the nerves, “possibly causing dysfunction.”
Dr. Adalja says that he “highly doubts” people will develop a complication like this from COVID-19. But, he says, you should “seek medical attention” if it happens to you.
Thank you for being a beacon of truth and reason in this age of sensationalist misinformation, Health. Everyone else, please remain vigilant. Misleading news headlines can really get your ass.