Scientists find many people have lasting fatigue after COVID-19 infection

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In a new study, researchers found More than half of people with acute COVID-19 infection continue to have persistent fatigue 10 weeks after their initial illness.

The research was conducted by a team at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Fatigue is one of the most common initial presenting complaints of people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The long-term consequences of COVID-19 have not been well-studied and concern has been raised that the virus has the potential to trigger a post-viral fatigue syndrome.

In the new study, researchers tracked fatigue, as well as patient characteristics including COVID-19 severity, laboratory markers, levels of inflammatory markers, and pre-existing conditions, in 128 people who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The participants were 54% female and averaged 49.5 years old. About 55.5% of the participants had been admitted to a hospital for their COVID-19 treatment while the remainder were treated as outpatients.

On average, they were tested for the study 72 days after discharge from a hospital or, if managed as an outpatient, after a time point 14 days following diagnosis.

The team found about 52.3% of the participants met the criteria for fatigue at the assessment point at least 6 weeks following COVID-19 infection. Only 42.2% of the patients reported feeling back to their full health.

Importantly, there was no association between COVID-19 severity, the need for hospital admission, or routine laboratory markers of inflammation with the likelihood of experiencing persistent fatigue after infection.

The team also found that the female gender and a history of anxiety or depression were more common in the severe fatigue group.

This study highlights the burden of post-COVID fatigue. It also demonstrates that post-COVID fatigue is unrelated to the severity of initial infection, so predicting its development is not easy.

One author of the study is Liam Townsend.

The study is published in PLOS ONE.

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