COVID-19: one in eight patients retain at least one lasting symptom, study finds

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Among people with COVID-19, one in eight retains one of the hallmark symptoms of COVID long term, shows a large study published on Friday.

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These symptoms include “abdominal pain, difficulty and pain in breathing, muscle aches, ageusia or anosmia (loss of taste or smell: editor’s note), tingling, discomfort in the throat, hot flashes or cold, heaviness in the arms or legs as well as general fatigue”, lists this study published in the Lancet.

“In 12.7% of patients, these symptoms can be attributed to COVID-19”, three to five months after infection, conclude the authors.

This work, carried out in the Netherlands, is, by its scope and methodology, an important piece to better understand the risk of long-lasting COVID, that is, the persistence of long-lasting symptoms after coronavirus infection.

In the current state of knowledge, we know that there are sequelae specific to a coronavirus infection in certain patients and that these cannot be explained solely by psychosomatic disorders, as certain doctors initially put forward.

But the frequency of these disorders and, even more so, the physiological mechanisms by which they occur are largely unknown.

If the Lancet study does not answer this second question, it makes it possible to better clarify the first element, firstly because it was carried out on a large number of patients: more than 4,000 people with COVID-19.

In these patients, the COVID-19 episode was confirmed by a PCR test or a doctor’s diagnosis.

Finally, and this is an important novelty, the responses of these patients were compared to those given by a group of people who did not have COVID.

Because it is possible to experience one of the symptoms listed, without COVID being the cause. In fact, almost 9% of people who have not had COVID have one of the symptoms described above.

Among former COVID patients, the proportion rises to 21.4%. It is by subtraction that the researchers manage to conclude that just over 12% of people affected by COVID develop a sequelae specifically linked to the disease.

However, this study has certain limitations, such as not having measured the frequency of other symptoms associated with long-term COVID, including in particular a state of depression or mental confusion.

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