One in three have long Covid symptoms six months after infection

O

ne in three people will show long Covid symptoms three to six months after being infected, a new study indicates.

Until now long Covid has been self-diagnosed with research based on small extent studies.

But the Oxford study found the most shared symptoms were breathing problems, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, pain and anxiety or depression.

When looking solely at Covid-19, the researchers also found that different groups were affected by long-lasting symptoms in different ways.

for example older people and men had more breathing difficulties and cognitive problems, while young people and women had more headaches, abdominal symptoms and anxiety or depression.

Patients admitted to hospital were more likely to suffer cognitive problems like brain fog and fatigue compared to people who did not need to be admitted, and people who did not need hospital care were more likely to have headaches than those who needed to be admitted.

Similar symptoms were seen in people after influenza but they occur and co-occur less commonly

The study, which analysed health records of more than 273,000 people who had Covid-19 and 114,000 who had flu in the US, outlined nine long Covid symptoms and the proportion of people who were experiencing between 90 and 180 days after initial infection:

– Abnormal breathing – 8%– Abdominal symptoms – 8%– Anxiety depression – 15%– Chest/throat pain – 6%– Cognitive problems such as ‘brain fog’ – 4%– Fatigue – 6%– Headache – 5%– Muscle pain – 1.5%– Other pain – 7%

When taking all factors into account, the research team estimated that 37% of people who had a Covid-19 infection had at the minimum one long Covid symptom three to six months after infection.

But the authors stressed there were “important caveats” which meant the results might not be generalised – namely that people included in the study with both flu and Covid could have been “iller” than those in the general population because they had sought medical help for their symptoms.

Dr Taquet said: “Over one third of patients were diagnosed with at the minimum one of the long Covid symptoms between three and six months after their Covid-19 illness.

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