37% of people recovered from Covid-19 would present at least one symptom of Long Covid

37% of people recovered from Covid-19 would present at least one symptom of Long Covid

A study shows that the probability of developing the syndrome is linked to the severity of Covid-19 and that the type of symptoms differs between men and women

(photo: Getty Images) Many, many symptoms and few certainties . Even today, experts do not know how to define in every detail what Long Covid syndrome is, that condition of malaise, sometimes disabling, which accompanies for weeks (if not months) people who have overcome the Sars-Cov-2 infection. But how many patients develop it? And are there risk factors that predispose some more than others? Researchers from Oxford University tried to answer these questions in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research (Nihr) and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Center (Brc) who analyzed the medical records of 270,000 people diagnosed with Covid-19. in the United States in the period between January and December 2020. Here is what they discovered.

How common are the symptoms of Long Covid?

As reported in the article published in Plos Medicine, scientists have calculated the incidence of 9 of the main symptoms of Long Covid syndrome three to six months after the diagnosis of Covid-19. In the medical records of more than a third of patients (about 37%) the diagnosis of one or more disorders attributable to Long Covid was reported.

In detail, breathing problems were ascertained in 8% of cases as well as abdominal symptoms; anxiety and / or depression in 15%; chest / throat pain in 6%; cognitive symptoms (eg brain fog) in 4%; fatigue in 6%; headache in 5%; myalgia in 1.5%; other pains in 7%.

Are there predisposing factors?

Although the results of this retrospective study are not conclusive, the frequency of Long Covid is thought to be linked to the severity of Sars-Cov-2 infection . Patients admitted to hospital for Covid-19, in fact, most commonly had long-term symptoms. A correlation was also found with the female gender, although less strong than that highlighted by other studies.

In addition, women and young people often complain of long-term symptoms that differ from those of men and the elderly : While headaches, abdominal symptoms and anxiety / depression are more common among the former, breathing difficulties and cognitive problems occur in the latter.

Symptoms occur together?

From the data that emerged from the analysis it seems that after the recovery from Covid-19, people who experience Long Covid mostly accuse only one symptom at first. However, over time the probability that others will be added increases.

Comparison with flu

In this study, a comparison was also made with what happens with flu. In practice, the researchers also analyzed the medical records of people who had received the diagnosis of seasonal flu and not of Covid-19, going to check if after recovery they had presented symptoms similar to those of Long Covid. In fact, it does happen, but at a much lower rate (and we must consider the fact that these were cases of flu serious enough to have to go to a healthcare professional). This would support the idea that long-term post Covid symptoms are directly linked to Sars-Cov-2 infection and not a response to a generic viral infection.

Unanswered questions

Unfortunately, many questions still remain unanswered. The Oxford study, the authors specify, does not provide information on the causes of Long Covid, on why some patients suffer from it and others do not (but it is also unknown why so many Sars-Cov-2 infections remain asymptomatic and others give leading to severe forms of Covid-19), nor on how long the symptoms last or how they can be resolved. For this understanding the biological bases is fundamental.

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