November 13, 2020 -- A little more than half of people who recover from COVID-19 report fatigue, even weeks after they get better, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS One.
Regardless of the severity of their infection, about 52% said they still felt extremely tired 10 weeks after contracting COVID-19.
“A lengthy post-infection fatigue burden will impair quality of life and will have significant impact on individuals, employers and healthcare systems,” the researchers from Trinity College Dublin wrote.
The researchers surveyed 128 patients who received COVID-19 care at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin and rated their fatigue scores up to 10 weeks after infection. About 52% — or 67 participants — met the criteria for fatigue, both physically and psychologically. In particular, women and those who had previous diagnoses of depression or anxiety were more likely to report lingering fatigue.
Overall, the patients’ fatigue levels were much higher than the typical scores observed in the general population. However, their scores were lower than the criteria used to indicate chronic fatigue syndrome.
About half of the patients had been hospitalized for COVID-19, and half had received drugs to treat the virus. The researchers didn’t find a link between the persistent fatigue and hospitalization or the severity of the disease.
This lasting fatigue could become a major concern as people recover from COVID-19, the researchers wrote. At the time of the survey, about a third of the participants hadn’t returned to work.
“This is of particular concern, given that it is recommended that post-viral infection return to work should take place after four weeks to prevent deconditioning,” they wrote.