Long COVID more likely in these people, study finds

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In a new study from the University of Birmingham, researchers found the presence of more than five symptoms of COVID-19 in the first week of infection is significantly associated with the development of long COVID.

The review summarizes current research on symptom prevalence, complications and management of long COVID.

The finding highlights the ten most common symptoms of long COVID. These are fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, cough, headache, joint pain, chest pain, altered smell, diarrhea and altered taste.

The researchers identified two main symptom clusters of long COVID: those comprising exclusively of fatigue, headache and upper respiratory complaints; and those with multi-system complaints including ongoing fever and gut symptoms.

There is evidence that the impact of acute COVID-19 on patients, regardless of severity, extends beyond hospitalization in the most severe cases, to ongoing impaired quality of life, mental health and employment issues.

People living with long COVID generally feel abandoned and dismissed by healthcare providers and receive limited or conflicting advice.

In the review, more than one-third of the patients reported they still felt ill or in a worse clinical condition at eight weeks than at the onset of COVID-19.

The team says neither the biological or immunological mechanisms of long COVID nor the rationale for why certain people are more susceptible to these effects, are yet clear, limiting the development of therapies. It is essential we act quickly to address these issues.

In a comparison with other coronaviruses, the researchers suggest that in the longer term, patients with long COVID may also experience a similar disease trajectory to that of patients who had SARS or MERS.

A previous analysis showed that six months after hospital discharge, approximately 25% of patients hospitalized with SARS and MERS had reduced lung function and exercise capacity.

The wide range of potential symptoms and complications patients with long COVID may experience highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the clinical course of the condition.

The study is published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. One author of the study is Dr. Olalekan Lee Aiyegbusi.

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