Covid: Three most common symptoms ‘lingering’ months after initial infection – new study
Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus
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Covid is a cruel lottery: some people are symptomatic, others briefly experience cold-like symptoms, or, for an unlucky few, symptoms persist for months after the initial infection has disappeared. “Long Covid” is the term that’s applied to the symptoms that persist for months after recovering from the infection.
Ongoing research aims to deepen our understanding of what causes long Covid, develop treatments that cure it and establish a symptom profile.
Progress is afoot on all fronts but so far the biggest gains have been made in relation to symptoms.
Researchers continue to pore over a trove of patient data to understand how long Covid impacts the body.
A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Cureus sought to identify the most common “lingering” symptoms of Covid.
“In the studies done in the outpatient setting involving mild to moderate COVID-19 patients, there were significant variations regarding the exact percentage of people with lingering symptoms,” wrote the researchers in the study.
They continued: “Also, in the outpatient setting, not many studies were done on COVID-19 patients that assessed risk factors for having lingering symptoms.”
The researchers sought to plug these vital gaps in knowledge with the chief aim of allowing “the physicians, healthcare system and community to better prepare for managing and following these patients”.
The study period was within 12 months after the first documented case of COVID-19 occurred in the State of Alabama.
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The study population included patients who were diagnosed with a documented case of COVID-19 in this time period and were under the care of a single primary care provider at an ambulatory clinic.
Among 80 patients who had documented COVID-19, three left the practice, two declined to participate in the study and three were deceased (two due to COVID-19 and one for other reasons).
Therefore, the study population constituted 72 patients. A questionnaire was mailed to all 72 patients to see how many of them had symptoms three months and beyond of having COVID-19 infection.
A chart review was conducted for the study participants to assess for “comorbid conditions” – health conditions that were considered conclusively high risk for acute COVID-19 infection by US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What were the most common symptoms?
Fifty-three patients responded to the questionnaire; 27 patients (50.9 percent) reported lingering symptoms beyond three months of diagnosis with COVID-19 infection.
The three most common symptoms reported were fatigue (56 percent), brain fog (48 percent), and shortness of breath (41 percent).
The results also showed that women are more likely than men to have lingering symptoms.
Elderly patients were as likely as 18-64 years old patients to have lingering symptoms and the presence of one or more of the “comorbid conditions” does not have any bearing on the occurrence of lingering symptoms, the researchers wrote.
They concluded: “Future studies should be done in a larger population to assess the findings that our study showed regarding ‘elderly’ age and the presence of one or more ‘comorbid conditions’ being independent variables of the occurrence of prolonged COVID-19 symptoms.
“We recommend studies be done assessing the prevalence and predictors for the long-term effects of the COVID-19 infection.
“This knowledge could help in preventing those long-term symptoms from occurring in the first place and also in preparing the patient, the physician and the community in managing the outcomes effectively.”
According to the NHS, you should contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having COVID-19.
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