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How Many Symptoms for Long COVID?

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How Many Symptoms for Long COVID?
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tally of 19 possible long COVID symptoms comes with the caveat that it's ‘not a comprehensive list.’

Yale Medicine tallies 22 symptoms. However, the Mayo Clinic lists just 10. And Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) puts the number at 16.

Fierce Healthcare’s recent article entitled “Researchers looking for long COVID symptoms find only 7” says these lists can be made even longer. For example, the NHS has “high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat and changes to sense of smell or taste” as one symptom. And the Mayo lists “difficulty thinking or concentrating, headache, sleep problems, dizziness when you stand, pins-and-needles feeling, loss of smell or taste and depression or anxiety” as one symptom.

A major impediment to helping patients with long COVID is that there currently aren’t any generally agreed-upon diagnostic or treatment guidelines. Winnowing down exactly what symptoms point to long COVID would be a start. Researchers at the University of Missouri think they’ve done just that by slimming the field of long COVID symptoms down to just seven:

  • Fast-beating heart;
  • Hair loss;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chest pain;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Joint pain

Their study in Open Forum Infectious Diseases said, “understanding the population and subgroup risks for long COVID associated with outcomes, including lingering and chronic never-before-experienced symptoms and new medical diagnoses such as those reported here, is important for clinicians and researchers so that clinical guidelines for treatments and symptom management can be more appropriately developed for the growing number of adults affected by COVID-19.”

Shyu and co-authors examined data from more than 52,000 patients collected in electronic health records at 122 healthcare facilities across the country. They identified 47 possible symptoms of long COVID and compared symptoms in three groups:

  • Those who had COVID-19 but didn’t have common viral problems associated with the disease, such as influenza or pneumonia;
  • Individuals who didn’t have COVID-19 but did have a different viral respiratory infection; and
  • Individuals who had neither COVID-19 nor one of the other infections.

The authors said they believe their findings will demonstrate what symptoms clinicians should look for when trying to determine whether somebody has long COVID.

“A better recognition of post COVID syndrome or long COVID will help us study the underlying reasons that cause these prolonged abnormalities and also help us develop screening protocols to be used when COVID-19 survivors are seen within the healthcare systems,” says Shyu. “Such recognition also helps in developing focused treatments and rehabilitation strategies to promote recovery.”

One symptom of long COVID the study found supports the findings of previous studies that connected to the condition to heart problems.

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Reference: Fierce Healthcare (Feb. 1, 2023) “Researchers looking for long COVID symptoms find only 7”