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Majority of Covid19 Survivors Show ‘Long Covid’ Symptoms up to 6 Months: Study

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Oct 14, 2021

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A new study has found that more than half the people who have survived Covid19 are experiencing symptoms of ‘long Covid’ or ‘post-Covid syndrome,’ lasting for at least six months from their initial diagnosis of the infection.

Published in JAMA Network Open, the study is, essentially, a systematic review of 57 reports comprising data from more than 250,000 individuals — both adults and children — who were diagnosed with Covid19 between December 2019 and March 2021. 

While the researchers aren’t exactly sure why long Covid symptoms persist in patients, they have been able to categorize the lingering symptoms.

The data suggests that more than half of the patients are dealing with long-term fatigue, fever, and pain. One in five are experiencing decreased mobility, hair loss, and rashes. One in four have difficulty concentrating, one in three patients have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorders, and six in 10 are dealing with breathing difficulties. In addition, the data found that several patients are experiencing chest pain and palpitations, along with digestive issues.


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An Eye Scan Could Determine if Patients Have ‘Long Covid,’ Research Shows


The awareness of long-haul symptoms has existed within the medical community for a while now, especially with growing reports of people experiencing them. “I have had patients with a little bit of hearing loss, I’ve had patients with the tinnitus, and I’ve had patients feel like the room is spinning — especially when they move — and then dizziness,” Dr. Dixie Harris, a U.S. pulmonologist, who has been treating patients suffering from long Covid, told the media earlier this year.

This March, Kent Taylor, the 65-year-old founder of an American restaurant chain called Texas Roadhouse, died by suicide. In a statement released after, his family said he was battling “post-Covid-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus.” Twitter users began sharing their own experiences of dealing with tinnitus after recovering from Covid19 — some described it as a “form of torture“; others called it “maddening and depressing.”

According to the researchers, the symptoms are “occur[ing] on a scale that could overwhelm existing healthcare capacity, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries.” Given that the World Bank classifies India as a “lower-middle-income county,” perhaps, there is cause for us to worry, especially since most of us have already witnessed the country’s healthcare system collapse amid the second wave.


Related on The Swaddle:

‘Long Covid’ Patients In India Are Struggling, But Their Plight Remains Unseen


Small-scale Indian studies, too, suggest several patients here are dealing with long Covid — mostly neuro-psychiatric symptoms like depression, anxiety, brain fog, and sleep disorders, besides the persistence of breathlessness.

On the one hand, experts believe the severity of one’s infection determines the duration of the long-haul. At the same time, doctors are beginning to notice long-term symptoms even in people whose infection presented asymptomatically. “We are seeing more and more cases of long Covid-19 in our OPDs. According to the studies done in many countries abroad, even asymptomatic to mild patients can have these long Covid complications,” Vivek Nangia, director of pulmonology at Max Super Speciality Hospital, told The Economic Times.

Research on long Covid is continuing to emerge. In the meantime, while case numbers for Covid19 may be falling, the number of people with long Covid coming forward is growing. The researchers believe it’s time for the healthcare system to plan and allocate resources accordingly to ensure it isn’t overwhelmed. They also suggested early intervention to provide a better quality of life for Covid19 survivors.

“The burden of poor health in Covid19 survivors is overwhelming,” Paddy Ssentongo, an assistant professor at the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering, said in a statement, adding that “one’s battle with Covid doesn’t end with recovery from the acute infection.” That’s the “battle” healthcare systems must prepare for.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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