More research is pointing to the long-term effects of COVID-19 that will plague many sufferers, even those who did not have severe disease, with health problems in the future.
According to Axios, these long-haulers will continue to burden the U.S. healthcare system even after the majority of citizens have been vaccinated. Several eye-opening studies have uncovered disturbing data on long-term complications of COVID-19.
A study published in the journal Nature last Thursday found that people who had COVID-19 not requiring hospitalization had a 60% increased risk of dying between one and six months after infection than those not infected by the virus, per The New York Times. Furthermore, the researchers, who examined the medical records of 73,000 patients in the Department of Veteran Affairs Health System, found that 20% of COVID-19 survivors were more likely to require outpatient care over those six months than people who had not contracted the virus. Their symptoms included both physical and mental health issues, according to Axios.
The disease also exacerbated underlying medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart problems causing them to become chronic, life-long medical issues.
“We found it all,” study author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the director of the clinical epidemiology center, and chief of the research and education service at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, told the Times. “What was shocking about this when you put it all together was like ‘Oh my God,’ you see the scale.
Another study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Friday found that 69% of adults who had COVID-19 and did not require hospital care visited outpatient clinics one or more times between 28 and 180 days after their diagnosis. Two-thirds of these received a new medical diagnosis.
According to Axios, most of these patients were women, Black, had underlying medical conditions, and were over 50 years of age. The study authors noted healthcare needs in the months after a COVID-19 diagnosis among nonhospitalized patients has not been well studied.
“Clinicians and healthcare systems should be aware of the potential for post-COVID conditions,” they wrote.
Three-quarters of COVID-19 patients suffer from at least one lingering symptom after six months, according to a Chinese study. Researchers followed almost 2,000 Wuhan patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and found that the most common post-infection symptoms were fatigue, muscle weakness, and sleep problems.
According to Euronews, the study published in The Lancet also noted that anxiety and depression plagued patients with long-term symptoms, often referred to a long haulers. Researchers reported patients recovering from COVID-19 may suffer these symptoms for months, and many are unable to return to work at full capacity six months after infection. The long-COVID-19 symptoms experienced by these patients included shortness of breath, migraines, chronic fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction.
According to CNBC, the largest global study of long COVID-19 confirmed that many patients were incapacitated for months after infection. The study included data from researchers who surveyed close to 4,000 people aged 18 to 80 from 56 countries. It found that these long haulers suffered 205 symptoms in 10 organs, with 66 symptoms that lasted over 7 months.
The researchers found that the most reported symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness after exertion, and cognitive dysfunction often referred to as brain fog, lasted for at least six months. Moreover, 45% of respondents said they had to reduce their workload as a result of their disabling symptoms, while 22.3% said they could not work at all.
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