MONDAY, July 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- People with long-haul COVID experience a wider set of symptoms than once thought, including hair loss and sexual dysfunction, British researchers report.
An analysis of electronic health records for 2.4 million U.K. residents revealed that 12 weeks after their initial infection, COVID patients report 62 distinct symptoms much more often than those who didn't have the virus.
Looking at only non-hospitalized patients, researchers identified three categories of distinct symptoms reported by people with persistent health problems after infection.
Patterns of symptoms tended to be grouped mainly as respiratory or brain symptoms, alongside a third category representing a broader range of health problems, including hair loss and erectile dysfunction.
The most common symptoms include loss of smell, shortness of breath, chest pain and fever. Others include:
- Apraxia (inability to perform familiar movements or commands)
- Bowel incontinence
- Limb swelling.
The researchers also discovered that specific groups of people are at increased risk of developing long COVID. These include females, younger people and ethnic minorities, as well as poorer people, smokers, those who are overweight or obese, and people with chronic health problems.
"The symptoms we identified should help clinicians and clinical guideline developers to improve the assessment of patients with long-term effects from COVID-19, and to subsequently consider how this symptom burden can be best managed," senior researcher Shamil Haroon said in a University of Birmingham news release. He is an associate clinical professor in public health at the university.
The study was published July 25 in the journal Nature Medicine .
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about long COVID.
SOURCE: University of Birmingham, news release, July 25, 2022