Study on Long COVID identifies 200 symptoms
While there has been a lot of public discussion around long COVID, there are few systematic studies investigating this population,
Long Covid is a condition wherein people continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms for longer than usual after initially contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A recent study on these patients identifies more than 200 symptoms spread across 10 organ systems.
Since the onset, the wide range of symptoms of Covid-19 have perplexed public and delayed the detection of the disease. The global study with responses from 3,762 eligible participants from 56 countries was published in the journal EClinicalMedicine. Among 203 symptoms, 66 were tracked for seven months.
The symptoms range from common fatigue, post-exertional malaise(mental exertion cognitive dysfunction often called brain fog) to more advanced like visual hallucinations, tremors, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control issues, shingles, blurred vision and memory loss,
The researchers are now calling for clinical guidelines on assessing long COVID to be significantly widened including tests to study neuropsychiatric, neurological, and activity intolerance symptoms, they said.
"While there has been a lot of public discussion around long COVID, there are few systematic studies investigating this population," said Athena Akrami, a neuroscientist at University College London in the UK, and senior author of the study.
"Relatively little is known about its root cause, range of symptoms, and their progression over time, the severity, and expected clinical course (longevity), its impact on daily functioning, and expected return to baseline health," said Akrami.
The survey was open to those aged 18 or over who had experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including those with and without with and without positive SARS-CoV-2 test. It consisted of 257 questions.
In order to characterize long COVID symptoms over an extended duration, analysis of survey data was limited to respondents with illnesses lasting longer than 28 days and whose onset of symptoms occurred between December 2019 and May 2020.
"Memory and cognitive dysfunction, experienced by over 85 per cent of respondents, were the most pervasive and persisting neurologic symptoms, equally common across all ages, and with substantial impact on work," the scientist said.
However there remain certain limitations to the study like recall bias by patients and sampling bias.