One in eight adults (12.7%) infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience long-term symptoms due to covid-19, suggests a large Dutch study published in the journal The Lancet.
Study provides one of the first comparisons of long-term symptoms after infection with SARS-CoV-2 (often referred to as “long covid”) with symptoms in an uninfected population, as well as the measurement of symptoms in individuals before and after infection with covid-19.
The inclusion of uninfected populations allows for more accurate prediction of long-term covid-19 symptom prevalence, as well as better identification of key long-term covid symptoms.
“There is an urgent need for data to shed light on the magnitude and extent of long-term symptoms experienced by some patients following COVID-19 disease,” says the professor. Judith Rosmalen, from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and lead author of the study. “However, most previous research on prolonged covid has not looked at the frequency of these symptoms in people who have not been diagnosed with covid-19 or looked at individual patient symptoms prior to covid diagnosis. -19.” .
Pain, loss of taste, or other symptoms
Their study examines the symptoms most commonly associated with long-term covid, including breathing problems, fatigue and loss of taste and/or smellboth before the diagnosis of covid-19 and in people who have not been diagnosed with it.
“This method allows us to take into account pre-existing symptoms and symptoms in uninfected people to offer an improved working definition for long COVID-19 and to provide a reliable estimate of the likelihood of long COVID-19 occurring. in the general population,” he notes.
In this new study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers collected data by asking participants in the population-based Lifelines covid-19 cohort to regularly complete digital questionnaires about 23 commonly associated symptoms long covid.
Most of the data was collected before the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine in the Netherlands, so the number of vaccinated participants was too small to analyze in this study. Of the 76,422 attendees4,231 (5.5%) who had COVID-19 were matched with 8,462 controls based on gender, age, and when they completed questionnaires indicating a diagnosis of COVID-19.
Researchers found that several symptoms were new or more severe three to five months later of having covid-19, compared to symptoms before covid-19 diagnosis and the control group, suggesting that these symptoms can be considered the main symptoms of long covid.
The bone main symptoms recorded were chest pain, shortness of breath, pain when breathing, muscle aches, loss of taste and/or smell, tingling in hands/feet, lump in throat, feeling hot and alternating cold, heaviness in the arms and/or legs and general fatigue. The severity of these symptoms stabilized after three months of infection, with no further decline.
Other symptoms not significantly increased between three and five months after the diagnosis of covid-19 were headaches, itchy eyes, dizziness, back pain and nausea.
PhD student and first author of the study, Aranka Balleringexplains that “these core symptoms have important implications for future research, as these symptoms can be used to distinguish between post-Covid-19 status and non-Covid-19 related symptoms.”
Among study participants who had submitted data on pre-COVID symptoms, researchers found that 21.4% (381/1,782) of COVID-19 positive participants, compared to 8.7% (361/ 4,130) of the control group, experienced at least an increase in symptoms moderate severity 3 months or more after infection with SARs-CoV-2. This implies that in 12.7% of covid-19 patients, their new or severely increased symptoms three months post-covid can be attributed to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“By examining symptoms in an uninfected control group and in individuals before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection, we were able to account for symptoms that might have resulted from non-infectious health aspects of the pandemic, such as stress caused by constraints and uncertainties.
As he points out, “post-covid-19 disease, also known as long covid, is an urgent problem with a growing number of human victims. Understanding the main symptoms and prevalence of post-covid-19 in the general population represents a big step forward in our ability to design studies that could ultimately inform successful healthcare responses to long-term symptoms of COVID-19. .
mental health symptoms
Professor Judith Rosmalen states that “Future research should include mental health symptoms (e.g. symptoms of depression and anxiety), as well as other post-infectious symptoms that we could not assess in this study (such as brain fog, insomnia, and post-performance malaise).”
“We were unable to investigate what might be causing any of the symptoms seen after Covid-19 in this study, but we hope that future research can provide insight into the mechanisms involved. Due to the timing of this study, we are unable to assess the effect of vaccination against covid-19 and the different variants of SARS-CoV-2 on symptoms of prolonged covid.We hope that future studies will provide insights responses on the impact of these factors.