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37% 0f COVID-19 Patients Suffer at Least One Long-lasting Symptom, New Study Shows

A new study sheds light on how common so-called “long-COVID” symptoms are, as medical experts and patients try to figure out why they can last months, if not years.

The Long-COVID

Long Covid is defined as symptoms that persist for more than 12 weeks after an infection, whether severe or mild, and cannot be explained by another cause, according to UK health worker guidance.

The study, led by the University of Oxford, was published in PLOS Medicine on Tuesday and compared the likelihood of long-haul symptoms to influenza.

After looking at the anonymized health records of 273,618 COVID-19 survivors over six months, the researchers found that 37% of patients had one or more long-COVID symptoms beyond the three-month mark – 1.5 times more likely than with influenza.

Man Suffering

People who did not need hospital care were more likely to have headaches than those who needed to be admitted. (Photo: laflor/Getty Images)

The Symptoms

Researchers discovered that 37% of patients had at least one long COVID-19 symptom three to six months after infection. The most common symptoms were breathing problems, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, pain, and anxiety or depression.

After the acute phase of COVID-19, the researchers discovered differences in patients’ likelihood of becoming long-hauler. According to the study, long-term symptoms were found to be more common in people who had been hospitalized and slightly more common in women.

“Research of different kinds is urgently needed to understand why not everyone recovers rapidly and fully from COVID-19,” said Oxford Professor Paul Harrison, who headed the study. “We need to identify the mechanisms underlying the diverse symptoms that can affect survivors. This information will be essential if the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 are to be prevented or treated effectively.’”

The study discovered that COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital were more likely to experience cognitive issues such as brain fog and fatigue than those who did not need to be admitted. People who did not require hospitalization were more likely to suffer from headaches than those who did.

Woman suffering from headache

Woman suffering from headache (Photo: GETTY)

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Cause of Long-COVID

According to BBC, there is no known cause of it yet. Some people’s immune systems may go into overdrive due to the infection, attacking the virus and their tissues. This is something that can happen to people who have robust immune responses.

Some symptoms, such as brain fog and a loss of smell and taste, could be explained by the virus itself infiltrating and damaging our cells, while damage to blood vessels, in particular, could lead to heart, lung, and brain problems.

While the study does not explain what causes long-term COVID symptoms, the researchers say they hope it will change people’s perceptions of how long it takes to recover from a positive test and how long it takes to get treatment.

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