Fatigue and headaches most common lingering symptoms months after COVID-19: study | Health

According to the researchers, on average more than four months after having COVID-19, participants most often reported feeling tired and headaches. Later symptoms in the long list of persistent symptoms included muscle aches, cough, changes in taste and smell, fever, chills and nasal congestion.

Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia report their findings in the journal “Science Direct.” “Our results support emerging evidence that there are chronic neuropsychiatric effects following COVID-19 infections,” they write.

“There are many symptoms that we didn’t know what to think about at the start of the outbreak,” says Dr. Elizabeth Rutkowski, MCG neurologist and corresponding author of the study. “But now it’s obvious there’s been a long COVID condition and a lot of people are distressed.”

Read also : Children’s noses can better fight off Covid-19 infection, study finds

The 200 patients in the first visit to the CONGA, or COVID-19 Neurological and Molecular Prospective Cohort Study in Georgia, were recruited an average of about 125 days after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The published study presents the preliminary results of the first visit of these patients.

Aiming to recruit 500 people over a five-year period, CONGA was developed at the MCG at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to study the severity and prognosis of neurological problems.

Eighty percent of the first 200 individuals reported neurological symptoms, with fatigue leading at 80.5 percent, followed closely by headache at 68.5 percent. Just over half of participants (54.5%) and tasters (54%) reported changes, and 47% of these met the standards for mild cognitive impairment, 30% showing poor vocabulary and 32% with impaired working memory.

In addition to their experience with COVID-19, 21% of people also reported disorientation, and hypertension was the most prevalent medical condition.

Although no participants reported having had a stroke, problems with coordination, muscle weakness or an inability to regulate speech muscles, these were some of the least commonly reported symptoms.

Twenty-five percent of participants met the criteria for depression, and those who did were more likely to have diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea and a history of depression. The 18% who met the objective criteria for anxiety suffered from anemia and had a history of depression.

While the results so far aren’t shocking and match what other researchers are finding, Rutkowski said it was interesting that participants’ symptoms often didn’t match what objective testing revealed. Moreover, it was mutual.

The majority of subjects, for example, claimed changes in taste and smell, but the results of empirical testing of these senses did not always support their claims. By objective measures, a higher percentage of people who did not report the changes actually showed signs of reduced function, the researchers wrote. Although the causes are unclear, according to Rutkowski, part of the discrepancy may be due to a change in the quality of their taste and smell rather than an actual deficiency.

While the results so far aren’t shocking and match what other researchers are finding, Rutkowski said it was interesting that participants’ symptoms often didn’t match what objective testing revealed. Moreover, it was mutual.

The majority of subjects, for example, claimed changes in taste and smell, but the results of empirical testing of these senses did not always support their claims. By objective measures, a higher percentage of people who did not report the changes actually showed signs of reduced function, the researchers wrote. Although the causes are unclear, according to Rutkowski, part of the discrepancy may be due to a change in the quality of their taste and smell rather than an actual deficiency.

Conversely, they argue that cognitive tests may overestimate disability in disadvantaged populations.

35.5% of the initial enrollees were men, with the majority being women. Almost 40% of them were black, they were on average 44.6 years old and 7% had hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The researchers say black participants were often disproportionately affected.

23.4% of white people and 75% of black participants met the standards for moderate cognitive impairment. The results most likely show that various ethnic groups are assessed differently using cognitive tests. Additionally, black people may be disproportionately affected by socioeconomic, psychological (problems such as family disorders, depression, and sexual abuse) and physical variables, the researchers wrote. They note that it may also imply that cognitive testing may exaggerate clinical impairments in disadvantaged people.

After COVID-19, blacks and Hispanics are twice as likely to require hospitalization, and ethnic and racial minorities are more likely to reside in places with higher infection rates. They are also more likely to experience the heightened effects of COVID due to genetics, just as they are more likely to develop hypertension and heart disease earlier in life and with more severity.

To better understand how the high risk and impacts of COVID-19 affect black people, who make up approximately 33% of the state’s population, is one of CONGA’s primary goals.

It’s possible that high levels of inflammation, the body’s normal response to infection, is one of the reasons fatigue seems to be such a big concern in those who have had COVID-19. For example, blood tests taken at the initial visit and again at the follow-up visit revealed that some people’s inflammatory markers were elevated and maintained.

According to these findings and others, some symptoms like lassitude are exacerbated by prolonged inflammation even when virus-specific antibodies may wane. She points out that fatigue is a common symptom in people with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which are characterized by high levels of inflammation.

They suffer from physical exhaustion, which makes them short of breath, and when they go to do the dishes, they feel palpitations. They then have to sit down right away because their muscles feel like they’ve just run a mile or more, according to Rutkowski.

Because patients also have brain fog and complain of having trouble thinking and reading even a single email, she speculates there may be some neurological fatigue. Even mild to moderate disease has been shown in some studies to cause reduced brain volume.

Some healthcare facilities have set up lengthy COVID clinics where physicians who are experts in the variety of issues they encounter come together to treat each patient. This is due to these persistent multi-system challenges.

CONGA participants who reported more symptoms and problems were more likely to struggle with sadness and anxiety.

These issues, moderate cognitive impairment and even decreased language may also be the result of the prolonged isolation that COVID-19 has caused many people, according to Rutkowski.

The activities most people like to do, like hanging out with their friends, aren’t what you do, Rutkowski says. “On top of that, you could be facing health issues, the loss of friends and relatives, and your job.”

CONGA participants self-report their symptoms and answer questions about their general health, including whether they smoke, drink alcohol, exercise, and have any known medical conditions. But they also undergo a thorough neurological exam that checks things like motor control, reflexes and mental status. Plus, they take validated exams to measure cognitive performance, with age-adjusted results. They also go through extensive tests at home where they are asked to recognize smells and test their ability to taste different flavors including sweet, sour, bitter, salty and broth. Additionally, a blood test is done to check for oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, signs of an ongoing infection.

Neuropsychiatric symptoms are observed in the acute stage of infection, but the researchers note that it is important to accurately characterize the evolution of symptoms over time.

Especially for some people, the symptoms continue to bother them. Even previously high achievers who typically worked 80 hours a week and exercised every day could only work about an hour a day and spend the rest of the day in bed, according to Rutkowski.

Investigators are looking for explanations of why and how, and although Rutkowski says she is unable to do so at this time, she can assure them that they are not alone or “crazy”.

According to Rutkowski, one of the best things anyone can do is continue to practice infection avoidance, which includes vaccination or stimulation to help protect your brain and body from prolonged COVID symptoms and help protect others from infection. There is evidence to suggest that the likelihood of persistent problems increases with the number of infections.

Because of the study’s expected high participation rate of people with persistent problems, Rutkowski warns that his results could be slightly skewed toward high percentages of persistent symptoms.

SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that has been linked to upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold in humans for many years, is expected to have first infected people in late 2019.

Since the onset of COVID-19, experience and research have shown that immediate neurological effects can include loss of taste and smell, brain infections, headaches and, less commonly, seizures, strokes and nerve damage or death. The researchers note that there is growing evidence that conditions such as loss of taste and smell, as well as cognitive fog, excessive exhaustion, melancholy, anxiety and insomnia can become chronicles. These and other persistent symptoms are now called “long Covid”.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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