- The study was conducted on 3762 patients with long-term Covid disease, and the study recorded 203 symptoms of the disease.
- 96% of patients had symptoms that persisted for more than 90 days after infection and 65% had symptoms for at least six months.
- Also, 89.1% of participants experienced relapses of the disease.
Extreme fatigue, discomfort after exercise, brain fog … but also tremors, itching, memory problems or even heart palpitations: in patients with a prolonged form of Covid-19, the disease can be expressed by multiple symptoms, which makes its diagnosis and treatment more complicated.
This is what a new study published Clinical Medicine – The largest study to date includes people with long-term Covid, that is, whose symptoms persisted for more than four weeks after the initial infection.
The researchers created an online questionnaire to describe the symptom profile and course over time in patients with confirmed or suspected long-term Covid, as well as the impact on their daily life, work and health. A total of 3,762 participants from 56 countries answered the questionnaire, which identified 203 symptoms.
Symptoms after six months in 65% of cases
The most common symptoms remain fatigue, discomfort after exercise and cognitive dysfunction, but other symptoms were widely cited by participants. This is the case with visual hallucinations, tremors, itchy skin, changes in the menstrual cycle, impotence, heart palpitations, bladder control problems, shingles, memory loss, vision problems, diarrhea or tinnitus.
Another lesson from the study is that the duration of symptoms varies greatly between patients. Of the 3,762 people questioned, 3,608 (96%) reported symptoms after 90 days, 2,454 (65%) had symptoms for at least six months and only 233 recovered. 89.1% of participants also experienced relapses and 45.2% said they needed a reduced work schedule compared to the period before the illness. 22.3% were no longer working at all at the time of the survey.
Better care for patients
“For the first time, this study sheds light on a wide range of symptoms, including neurological, diffuse and persistent symptoms in long-term Covid patients.”And the Dr. Akami, a neuroscientist at UCLA’s Sainsbury Wellcome Center and lead author, explains.
The latter is now advocating the expansion of clinical guidelines for long-term Covid assessment. Currently, only cardiovascular and respiratory function tests are recommended. The scientist wants tests to be included to monitor neurological, psychiatric, neurological symptoms and activity intolerance. It also recommends establishing national screening programmes, accessible to anyone who thinks they have long-term Covid disease, in order to best help patients and provide them with appropriate treatment.