Oct. 22, 2020 -- Being sick with COVID-19 for more than four weeks, so-called "long COVID," affects older people, women and those with a wide range of symptoms in the first week of their illness most, British researchers report.
About 5% of those with COVID-19 will have symptoms for eight weeks or more, according to the preprint analysis of data, CNN reported Wednesday.
The researchers identified two groups of long COVID sufferers. One had mostly respiratory symptoms, such as a cough and shortness of breath, plus fatigue and headaches. The other group had symptoms in many parts of the body, such as heart palpitations, gut issues, pins and needles or numbness, and brain fog.
"It's important we use the knowledge we have gained from the first wave in the pandemic to reduce the long-term impact of the second. This should pave the way for trials of early interventions to reduce the long-term effects," researcher Dr. Claire Steves, a clinical academic at King's College London, said in a statement.
Long COVID sufferers were twice as likely to have a relapse after they recovered, compared with those who had short COVID (16% versus 8%).
About 22% of adults older than 70 with COVID-19 developed long COVID, compared with about 1 in 10 of those aged 18 to 49, the study found. Women were also more likely to suffer from long COVID than men -- 15% versus 10%. But that only applied to younger patients, CNN reported.
Also, those who developed long COVID were slightly heavier than those with short COVID and those with asthma were more likely to develop long COVID, but there were no clear links to other health conditions, the researchers added.