According to a significant new study, long Covid is linked to more than 200 symptoms ranging from fatigue and painful joints to brain and heart issues.
Researchers led by a team at University College London spoke to thousands of people in the largest international study on the long-term impact of coronavirus to date, with many sufferers describing symptoms that lasted for months.
The most prevalent symptoms were weariness (which affected 98 percent of respondents), post-exertional malaise (which affected 89 percent of respondents), and cognitive impairment, sometimes known as brain fog (which affected 85 percent of respondents).
Visual hallucinations, tremors, itchy skin, changes in the menstrual cycle, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control troubles, shingles, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhoea, and tinnitus were some of the other symptoms.
The study, which was published in the Lancets EClinicalMedicine journal, included 3,762 people from 56 nations, with 1,020 of them being confirmed instances and 2,742 probable cases.
Researchers found a total of 203 symptoms across ten organ systems, with 66 of them being followed for seven months.
The authors of the research, who have all had or are now having long-term Covid, are urging that clinical criteria for screening afflicted people be expanded beyond cardiovascular and pulmonary function tests to include a broader spectrum of symptoms, including those impacting neuropsychiatric and neurological function.
“Although there has been a lot of public discussion over extended Covid, there are few systematic studies exploring this population; hence, relatively little is known about its range of symptoms, and their progression over time, the severity, and projected clinical course (longevity),” said Dr Athena Akrami, a neuroscientist at the Sainsbury Wellcome Institute at UCL and senior author of the report.
“With this innovative strategy, we went straight to long truckers around the world to develop a foundation of evidence for medical study, care improvement, and advocacy for the long Covid community.”
“This is the most extensive description of extended Covid symptoms to date.” According to the study, 91.8 percent of people would experience symptoms for more than 35 weeks (eight months).
3,608 (96%) of all respondents had symptoms that lasted longer than 90 days, while 2,454 (65%) had symptoms that lasted longer than 180 days.
The most prevalent symptoms among those who had been suffering symptoms for at least six months were fatigue (80%), post-exertional malaise (73%), cognitive dysfunction (58%), sensorimotor symptoms (56%), headaches (54%), and memory difficulties (51%).
Participants reported an average of 55.9 symptoms (out of a total of 203 in the study) across an average of 9.1 organ systems during their illness.
Exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress were the top triggers for nearly nine out of ten (89%) of the participants, who indicated their symptoms reappeared.
Nearly half (45%) stated they had to cut back on the amount of hours they worked as a result of the illness, and nearly one-fifth (22%) said they were not working at all at the time of the poll.
“For the first time, this study sheds light on the enormous spectrum of problems, particularly neurological symptoms, that are prevalent and persistent in patients with chronic Covid,” said Dr. Akrami.
“Memory and cognitive dysfunction, which were reported by more than 85% of respondents, were the most pervasive and persistent neurologic symptoms, affecting people of all ages and having a significant influence on employment.”
“Headache, sleeplessness, vertigo, neuralgia, neuropsychiatric abnormalities, tremors, sensitivity to noise and light, hallucinations (olfactory and other), tinnitus, and other sensorimotor symptoms were all common, and may indicate greater neurological disorders involving both the central and peripheral nerve systems,” according to the study.
“In addition to the well-documented respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms, there is now a definite need to expand medical standards to consider a far broader spectrum of symptoms when diagnosing long-term Covid.”
“There are likely to be tens of thousands of old Covid patients suffering in silence, unconvinced that their problems are linked to Covid-19,” the authors said.
The poll was also overwhelmingly filled out by English-speaking (92%) and white (85%) respondents, raising the likelihood that some issues encountered by other populations were overlooked.