Researchers identify symptoms associated with increased risk for long COVID
From the start of the pandemic, patients and doctors alike have been frustrated by the sizable minority of coronavirus infections that turn into long COVID, a perplexing collection of lingering and often disabling symptoms that persist weeks, months or years after the initial infection subsides.
The condition has been reported in both children and adults; in those who had preexisting conditions and those in robust health; in patients hospitalized with COVID-19; and those who experienced only mild symptoms during their initial infection.
A new study from researchers at the University of Southern California offers some insights into the prevalence of long COVID and suggests some early clues for who might be more likely to develop long-term symptoms.
Several previous studies have identified women as being at greater risk. But the USC study found no relationship in its sample between long COVID and age, gender, race and preexisting health conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
It did note a higher risk in patients who had obesity prior to infection. And it also spotted some associations between specific symptoms people experienced during their initial infection and the likelihood of developing long COVID. Patients who reported sore throats, headaches and, intriguingly, hair loss after testing positive were more likely to have lingering symptoms months later.