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Three months or longer: who and why is the protracted course of COVID-19 threatened

Advanced age and the presence of a wide range of initial symptoms increase the risk of "long-term covid", scientists say. with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The study, which was reviewed by the BBC, states that one in 20 people has been sick for almost eight weeks.

A study from King's College London also found that women, overweight people and asthma are most at risk.

The goal of the scientists is to develop an early detection methodology that will help identify patients requiring additional care, or those who will benefit the most from early treatment.

The study analyzed data from people who recorded their symptoms and test results in the Covid Symptom Study.

Scientists examined this data to identify patterns that could predict who is at risk for a long course of illness.

The results show that long-term illness can overtake anyone, but certain factors increase the risk.

What exactly increases the risk

“Having more than five different symptoms in the first week has become one of the key risk factors,” said Dr. Claire Steve of King's College London.

COVID-19 is more than just a cough. The virus that causes it can infect organs throughout the body.

Those who had cough, fatigue, headache, diarrhea and loss of smell were at greater risk than those who had only cough.

On the subject: 'Forgot who I am and where': after COVID-19, people suffer for months from disorientation and memory loss

The risk also increases with age, especially for people over 50 and also for women.

“From the first data, we saw that men are at a much higher risk of very severe illness and, unfortunately, death from covid, and women appear to be more prone to long-term illness,” says Dr. Steves.

No comorbidities were associated with the long-term course of covid, other than asthma and lung disease.

What is “long-term covid”

Long-term COVID-19 symptoms (in descending order):

  • weakness
  • breathlessness
  • joint pain
  • chest pain
  • cough
  • loss of smell
  • dry eye syndrome
  • cold
  • redness of the eyes
  • loss of taste
  • headache
  • sputum production
  • lack of appetite
  • sore throat
  • dizziness
  • muscle pain
  • diarrhea

The symptoms of “prolonged covid” are different for each patient, but fatigue is common.

Vicki Bourne, 48, began with a fever and a “miserable little cough” in March that became “absolutely terrible” and needed additional oxygen.

Then she was hospitalized, but even now, in October, she still experiences symptoms of “long-term covid”.

Vika's health is improving, but she has vision problems and is still experiencing “waves” of worsening health. Even walking the dog takes so much energy from her that she cannot speak at the same time.

“My joints began to feel like arthritis, and, strangely, two weeks ago I again lost my taste and smell, they completely disappeared,” says the woman.

“It’s like there’s some kind of inflammation in my body that moves in jumps. I cannot completely get rid of it: it appears and then disappears, appears and disappears, ”she adds.

Vicki is not alone. According to research:

  • every seventh person is sick for at least four weeks
  • every 20 person is sick for almost eight weeks
  • every 45th person is sick for at least 12 weeks

Researchers at King's College have created a piece of computer code that should help predict, from the very beginning of infection with the coronavirus, who is at risk of contracting "long-term covid".

On the subject: CDC recognizes another way coronavirus spreads

The code is not perfect. He correctly identified 69% of people whose illness did last a long time, but also predicted “long-term covid” for about a quarter of those infected who recovered quickly.

“We think this is really important because we could identify these people, maybe offer them preventive measures, but most importantly, track them down and make sure they get the rehabilitation they need,” says Dr. Steves.

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock noted that the results of the Covid Symptom Study once again remind the public, especially young people, that COVID-19 is dangerous for everyone and can have long-term and potentially devastating health effects.

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