The results of a new study show that people who still have health problems long after they have been infected with corona have a wider spectrum of symptoms than previously thought. A team of researchers has now discovered new signs of the long Covid virus.
The list of people who suffer from health problems even after infection with corona is increasing. In a previous British study, sufferers reported an average of 56 presentations for an average of nine members.1 Another British research team has added a few symptoms of the long-term Covid disease to this list.2 They surveyed 2.4 million people and compared coronavirus patients to a control group of uninfected people. The scientists found that 62 symptoms were reported particularly frequently even weeks after the initial infection.
The long list of 62 COVID-19 symptoms
Scientists from the University of Birmingham, along with a team of medical professionals and researchers from across the UK, analyzed anonymous electronic health records from 2.4 million people in the UK. The data collected between January 2020 and April 2021 included about 480,000 people with previous infections and 1.9 million people without coronavirus. The results show that reports of 62 presentations from patients with coronavirus infection increased and also occurred twelve weeks after the initial infection.
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Hair loss and sexual desire disorder
The research team was able to identify three different categories of distress patterns reported by people with persistent health problems. The long list of Covid symptoms is mainly categorized into respiratory symptoms, psychological and cognitive problems, and a broader group of symptoms.
The most common signs of the latter category included:
- loss of sense of smell
- hair loss
- Decreased sexual desire
- Erectile Dysfunction
However, the team also discovered patients
- memory loss
- Intestinal incontinence
- swelling in the extremities
- Apraxia – the inability to perform familiar movements or commands
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Who is most likely to get Long-Covid?
With their findings, the scientists not only added other factors to the long list of Covid symptoms, but were also able to identify important demographic groups and behaviors that carry an increased risk. Smoking and obesity are already known to be among them. But other factors, such as gender and ethnicity, appear to play a role as well, explains Anuradha Subramanian, lead author of the study. In addition, women, youth, BIPoC as well as people from less affluent backgrounds or with existing health problems are said to be more likely to contract Long Covid. Subramanian explains that women are affected more than men by the fact that they sometimes suffer more from autoimmune diseases. The question remains whether autoimmunity or other causes explain their increased risk.
The study provides a basis for future research
One of the main strengths of the study is the large sample size and comparison with the control group. However, much remains unclear. The long symptoms of Covid identified so far in the list are too extensive and cannot be explained solely by lifestyle-related risk factors or chronic health conditions. However, health issues identified after contracting COVID-19 should help clinicians evaluate long-standing COVID patients. The study results provide a good basis for better management of the burden of symptoms in the future.
- 1. Davis, H. E., Assaf, G. S., McCorkell, L. (2021). Description of long-term COVID-19 in an international group: 7 months of symptoms and their impact. Electronic medicine.
- 2. Subramanian A, Nirantharakumar K, Aaron S (2022). Symptoms and risk factors for prolonged exposure to novel coronavirus in adults who are not hospitalized. Nature medicine.