Women and men have different ‘long COVID’ symptoms

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In a new study from Mayo Clinics, researchers found that women predominantly showed symptoms of fatigue, followed by muscle pain and low blood pressure, while men primarily experienced shortness of breath.

They say these characteristics will help health care providers diagnose and treat people suspected of having the post-COVID syndrome.

In the study, the team aimed to understand the characteristics of post-COVID-19 ― what is also known as a long-haulers syndrome.

They analyzed cases of the first 108 patients in their new care clinic, of which 75 percent were women.

They found six main symptoms: Fatigue, Muscle ache or pain, Low blood pressure, Chest pain, Shortness of breath, Headache.

Of 81 women studied, 72% had fatigue as their dominant symptom. Of the 27 men in the study, 58% had shortness of breath.

Most patients in the study also showed a sharp rise in interleukin, or IL-6, a cytokine that the immune system releases to fight disease.

But IL-6 also causes inflammation. These patients―57 percent of the cohort―had high IL-6 levels up to three months after being infected with COVID-19.

IL-6 has long been associated with fatigue and sleep problems. The same level of IL-6 was not present in the men in the study.

The downstream effects of these symptoms mean immune dysregulation for weeks or months and a slow recovery.

The team says the three major symptoms of the women―fatigue, muscle aches and low blood pressure―make up what is known as central sensitization syndrome and the core of what is now being called a post-COVID syndrome.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about how many people get ‘long COVID’ – and who is most at risk and findings that you’re much less likely to get long COVID if you’ve been vaccinated.

For more information about the pandemic, please see recent studies about signs of ‘long COVID’ that could be found in eyes, and results showing that ‘version 2.0’ of COVID-19 vaccine quickly boosts immune system.