Survey: ‘Long haulers’ report lingering, numerous symptoms after COVID-19 infection
Friday, September 04, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Researchers have found that 96% of patients have had a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and about 45% had all three of these symptoms. The duration of symptoms depends on the severity of the disease. People with milder cases tend to get better on their own in 10 to 14 days.
However, about 75% of a group of patients who received care for COVID-19 at the Southmead Hospital in the northern suburbs of Bristol, England, were still suffering ongoing symptoms three months later. Although patients reported improvements in initial symptoms such as fever, cough, and sense of smell, many still had quality of life issues, and they struggled to carry out daily tasks such as washing, dressing, and going back to work.
The results of a recent survey symptom list conducted by researchers affiliated with Survivor Corps, a not-for-profit, grassroots movement educating and mobilizing COVID-19 survivors and connecting them with the medical, scientific, and academic research community to help stem the tide of this pandemic and assist in the national recovery, suggest that brain, whole body, eye, and skin symptoms are also frequent-occurring health problems for people recovering from COVID-19.
Symptoms, often debilitating, may linger for weeks or months after an initial diagnosis of COVID-19 and include everything from joint pain and fevers to hair loss and double vision. In fact, these victims of the virus have self-nicknamed themselves the “long haulers” and report nearly 100 different symptoms.
A reported 26.5% of symptoms that long haulers experience are described as painful. Unfortunately, the Survivor Corps group members have reported that their primary care doctors are unable or unwilling to help manage these lesser known and painful symptoms due to lack of research.
A recent Dutch study looked at about 1,600 people, average age 53 years, who reported coronavirus symptoms. About 91% of the patients were not hospitalized, indicating that the majority of the surveyed patients were mildly symptomatic. Of these patients, about 88% reported persistent intense fatigue, while almost 3 out of 4 had continued shortness of breath. Other continuing symptoms included chest pressure (45%), headache and muscle ache (40% and 36%, respectively), elevated pulse (30%), and dizziness (29%). Interestingly, 85% of the surveyed patients considered themselves healthy before contracting COVID-19. Only 6% of patients considered themselves healthy one or more months after getting the disease.
A study from researchers in Italy found that 56% of 402 adults who survived COVID-19 experienced at least one mental health condition a month after hospital treatment. It is unclear whether COVID-19 changes the brain, making people with it more likely to develop mental health conditions, or whether the conditions occur indirectly from being ill.
Although long haulers may fall into the high-risk category, there’s also a growing percentage of people who were otherwise healthy before they became infected. According to experts, whether someone with the coronavirus will experience long-lasting symptoms appears to be random.
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