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Persistent Symptoms Reported for About 30 Percent With COVID-19

MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2021 -- About 30 percent of patients with COVID-19 report persistent symptoms for months after illness, including outpatients with mild disease, according to a study published online Feb. 19 in JAMA Network Open.

Jennifer K. Longue, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal prospective cohort study involving adults with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 compared with healthy patients in a control group. COVID-19 symptom data were obtained at the time of acute illness and 177 patients completed a single follow-up questionnaire between three and nine months after illness onset (median, 169 days after onset of illness); 21 control patients were enrolled.

The researchers found that 11, 150, and 16 of the patients were asymptomatic, were outpatients with mild illness, and had moderate or severe disease requiring hospitalization, respectively. Among patients with COVID-19, 26.6, 30.1, and 43.3 percent of those aged 18 to 39 years, 40 to 64 years, and 65 years and older, respectively, reported persistent symptoms. At least one persistent symptom was reported by 32.7 percent of outpatients, 31.3 percent of hospitalized patients, and 4.8 percent of the control group. About one-third (35.5 percent) of the 31 patients with hypertension or diabetes experienced ongoing symptoms. Fatigue and loss of sense of smell or taste were the most common persistent symptoms (both 13.6 percent). Other symptoms were reported by 13.0 percent of patients, including brain fog (2.3 percent).

"Our research indicates that the health consequences of COVID-19 extend far beyond acute infection, even among those who experience mild illness," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Posted: February 2021

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