Long COVID can affect mind, body, employment, and quality of life for at least one year

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Scientists from Mount Sinai found that patients experiencing ‘long COVID’ may have symptoms for at least 12 months after initial COVID-19 infection.

It significantly and negatively impacts their cognition, ability to work, participation in physical activity, interaction with others, and overall quality of life.

The research is published in the American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine and was conducted by David Putrino et al.

In the study, the team examined 156 patients treated for long COVID between March 2020 and March 2021.

Patients filled out surveys on persistent symptoms and triggers of symptom exacerbation a median of 351 days from their first day of infection—patients received surveys after scheduling their first appointment and timestamped once submitted.

They were asked detailed questions about fatigue, breathlessness, ability to complete a moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity, cognitive function, health-related quality of life, anxiety, depression, disability, and their pre-and post-COVID-19 employment status.

The team found the most common reported symptoms were fatigue (82 percent of patients), followed by brain fog (67 percent), headache (60 percent), sleep disturbance (59 percent), and dizziness (54 percent).

More than 60 percent of long COVID patients had some level of cognitive impairment (either mild, moderate or severe), with symptoms including diminished short-term memory, difficulty remembering names, and issues with decision-making and daily planning.

In total, 135 patients answered questions about their employment pre- and post-COVID-19, and the number of patients in full-time work (102) went down to 55.

Going further, the team found the biggest trigger that made the symptoms worse was physical exertion (reported by 86 percent of patients), followed by stress (69 percent), dehydration (49 percent), and weather changes (37 percent).

The team says the long duration of these symptoms suggests that this is a problem that is not going away and that scientists need to aggressively pursue policies that will better support and protect these patients in the long term.

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