Patients who have long COVID experience more than 200 symptoms affecting 10 organs, according to the largest global study of ‘long-haulers’ till now, reported PTI.
The researchers created a web-based survey in a way to characterise symptom profile and time course in patients with confirmed or suspected long COVID.
Responses were taken from 3,762 participants, above 18 years of age, across 56 countries.
The study, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine, identified 203 symptoms in 10 organ systems. Of those, 66 symptoms were tracked for seven months.
Among the most common symptoms reported were fatigue, post-exertional malaise — worsening of symptoms after physical or mental exertion — and cognitive dysfunction, commonly known as brain fog.
Other symptoms included visual hallucinations, tremors, itchy skin, changes to the menstrual cycle, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control issues, shingles, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhoea, and tinnitus.
Data was collected from people with illnesses lasting longer than 28 days, whose symptoms occurred between December 2019 and May 2020.
“While there has been a lot of public discussion around long COVID, there are few systematic studies investigating this population,” said Athena Akrami, senior author of the study who is a neuroscientist at University College London.
“Relatively little is known about its 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.
As many as 96% (3,608) of the 3,762 respondents reported symptoms beyond 90 days, 2,454 (65 per cent) experienced symptoms for at least 180 days and only 233 had recovered.
Participants experienced an average of 55.9 symptoms, across an average of 9.1 organ systems.