In a new study, researchers found that many patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 could become “long haulers,” suffering symptoms months after they clear their non-life-threatening infection.
They found about 33% of COVID-19 patients who were never sick enough to require hospitalization continue to complain months later of symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell or taste and “brain fog”.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Washington.
In the study, the team examined 177 Seattle-area patients.
More than 90% of the patients (average age: 48) suffered only mild to moderate COVID-19 and didn’t need hospitalization. Few had health problems that would put them at risk for serious COVID-19 infection.
Overall, nearly 33% of COVID-19 patients who suffered through their illness at home and 31% of hospitalized patients reported at least one symptom from the disease that persisted months later.
The potential to suffer long-term symptoms from COVID-19 infection increased slightly with age.
The researchers found about 27% of patients between 18 and 39 years of age reported persistent symptoms, compared with 30% of those between 40 and 64, and 43% of those aged 65 and older
More than 29 million COVID-19 infections have been reported in the United States, which could mean millions of Americans suffering from symptoms that last months and possibly years.
The team says these results show why everyone should protect themselves against coronavirus infection, given that the track in the study was relatively young and healthy.
While this study is small, the numbers reported from Seattle are similar to what medical centers are seeing elsewhere in the United States and around the world.
One author of the study is Jennifer Logue, a research scientist.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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