Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

One in Five With Adult Covid Develop Long COVID

Many get lasting health problems in many different organ systems, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

COVID INFECTION CAN HAVE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES for the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

The United States Centers for Disease Control offers that one in five adult Covid survivors under the age of 65 in the United States has experienced at least one health condition that is a part of so-called long-Covid.

For those 65 and older, the statistics are even more disturbing: One in four will suffer from chronic symptoms associated with a COVID-19 infection.

Today, we explore the phenomenon of long COVID. We’ll look at some of the conditions associated with the condition and new findings.

Long COVID: Scope of the problem

I increasingly hear of individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, reporting persistent symptoms (or the onset of long-term ones) four weeks or more after their acute infection.

We refer to such chronic COVID symptoms as post-COVID conditions or long COVID.Post-COVID ConditionsImportant update: Healthcare facilities CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in…www.cdc.gov

The United States Centers for Disease Control evaluated electronic health record data for March 2020 through November 2021. The researchers looked at persons at least 18 years old.

The researchers assessed the incidence of 26 conditions (often attributable to post-COVID) among those with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis and matched patients with evidence of COVID-19 in the electronic health record.

The investigators divided the population by age (18 to 64 versus 65 years or older).

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Here are the study findings:

  • Among adults, 28 percent experienced a condition thought to be COVID-19 infection; in the control group, 16 percent reported such symptoms.
  • The conditions affected several body systems, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and psychiatric.
  • For both age categories in the COVID group, the highest risk ratios were for lung clots (acute pulmonary embolism) and respiratory symptoms, with over double the risk of the control group.

Long COVID: Symptoms

People who experience post-COVID conditions most commonly report:

General symptoms

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
  • Fever

Respiratory and heart symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

Neurological symptoms

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
  • Pins-and-needles feelings
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety

Digestive symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

Other symptoms

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Changes in menstrual cycles

The US Centers for Disease Control warns that if you have a long COVID condition, you may develop or continue to have symptoms that are challenging to explain or manage. The symptoms may be similar to those with chronic fatigue syndrome and other poorly understood chronic conditions that happen after other types of infection.

Long COVID: Who is more likely to experience it?

Some groups may be affected more by long COVID, including those who experience more severe COVID-19 illness (especially true for those hospitalized or needing intensive care).

Those with pre-existing health conditions may also be more likely to suffer from long COVID symptoms than those who did not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

People suffering from multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19 illness appear more likely to have chronic COVID-related troubles, as do those from populations suffering from health inequities.

I’ll end with this: Long COVID is one more good reason to get a COVID-19 vaccine. People who are vaccinated but experience a breakthrough infection appear less likely to report post-COVID conditions, compared to people who are unvaccinated.

The scope of the long COVID problem is shocking to me. We need to develop additional tools to reduce the risk of long Covid.


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Michael Hunter, MD
Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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