February 12, 2021

The Surprising Long-lasting Effects of COVID-19

These symptoms can last for months.

COVID-19 affects everyone in many ways. The World Health Organization currently reports that there are over 106 million confirmed cases and more than 2 million deaths worldwide.

It's now known that some effects of COVID-19 may be long-lasting

Many know the common symptoms of COVID-19 - cough, fever/chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose - which shows up 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Though many of these symptoms disappear after recovering from the infection, it's now known that some effects of COVID-19 may be long-lasting.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 have caught so much attention that it's received several nicknames: long-COVID, long-haulers, and post COVID-19 syndrome. Rapid research is ongoing in this space, including the results of a recent meta-analysis that aimed to figure out what the most common long-term effects are and how often they occur.
scans of the brain

A recent analysis identified 55 COVID-19 related long-term effects. Photo Credit.

This particular analysis considered symptoms lasting two weeks or more to be a long-term effect, while others have used one month as a minimum duration. Overall, they found 55 COVID-19 related long-term effects. Here are the top 10:
Everyone feels fatigued now and again, but the fatigue experienced with COVID-19 can be relentless. Some studies have found that some patients had fatigue for up to 100 days after getting COVID. And the symptoms were rough - severe fatigue, pain, sleep disturbances, and problems with mental function.

The long-term neurological effects of COVID-19 are numerous - headache, attention disorder, loss of smell, brain fog, neuropathy.

The long-term neurological effects of COVID-19 are numerous - headache, attention disorder, loss of smell, brain fog, neuropathy - and science hasn't been able to pinpoint the cause just yet. Researchers speculate that side effects from medicines, the infection itself, or its secondary effects (like low oxygenation) may be the culprit. Another study mentioned that the coronavirus may be able to enter and affect the brain directly.
Everyone expected fatigue and headache from coronavirus, but the hair loss left patients and their doctors bewildered. Men and women were affected, their hair thinning or falling out in clumps. The hair loss, so far, doesn't seem to be permanent but can last 3 to 6 months. Again, the exact cause is unknown, but a study mentioned that it could be linked to the inflammation brought on by the infection.
World Health Organization Vitamin D

"COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness" - CDC

Who's at Risk?

The verdict is still out who is more likely to develop long-COVID, but there may be a developing pattern. A recent clinical update indicated that those with five or more COVID symptoms in their first week are four times as likely to have long-term effects. The five most common symptoms were fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, a hoarse voice, and muscle aches. Women, those who are obese, and the elderly also seem to be at higher risk.
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