Study: A third of COVID-19 patients report at least one long-term symptom

More than one-third of those who have had the COVID-19 virus are suffering from a long-term symptom three to six months after their initial infection, according to a study released Wednesday.

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Researchers found that 37% of those in the study who had contracted the virus were suffering from one of nine “core” long-term symptoms. The study included 270,000 people who had been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection.

“The results confirm that a significant proportion of people, of all ages, can be affected by a range of symptoms and difficulties in the six months after COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Max Taquet, a professor at Oxford who led the analysis.

Women and those who had been hospitalized were slightly more likely to have one of the long-term symptoms, according to researchers.

The long-COVID symptoms, occurring 90-180 days after COVID-19 was diagnosed, include:

· Abnormal breathing – 8%

· Abdominal symptoms – 8%

· Anxiety/depression – 15%

· Chest/throat pain – 6%

· Cognitive problems (‘brain fog’) – 4%

· Fatigue – 6%

· Headache – 5%

· Myalgia (muscle pain) – 1.5%

· Other pain – 7%

The study found that men and those who are older were more likely to report breathing difficulties and cognitive issues while younger people and women said they more often had headaches, abdominal symptoms, anxiety and depression.

According to its authors, the study points out the need for more research into how COVID-19 affects the body and why its symptoms sometimes linger.

“Research of different kinds is urgently needed to understand why not everyone recovers rapidly and fully from COVID-19,” Oxford psychiatry professor Paul Harrison said.

“We need to identify the mechanisms underlying the diverse symptoms that can affect survivors,” Harrison said. “This information will be essential if the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 are to be prevented or treated effectively.”

The study did not try to “explain what causes long-COVID symptoms, nor how severe they are, nor how long they will last.”

Other studies have shown similar results in people considered COVID-19 “long haulers,” or people who continue to have symptoms months after a diagnosis.

A study posted on Nature.com in August highlighted more than 50 symptoms seen in patients months after their initial diagnosis of a COVID-19 infection. Among the symptoms were hair loss, memory loss, joint pain and heart palpitations.