While the coronavirus case and death counts rise, many of those afflicted survive—but are damaged, potentially beyond repair. “Despite the high mortality seen among hospitalised patients, many have survived, with little known about the medium-to-long term effects of COVID19 after discharge,” write the authors of a new study from Oxford University. “Although predominantly a respiratory illness, emerging data suggests that multiorgan injury is common, particularly in those with moderate to severe infections.” Here are the symptoms that can last months after contracting the virus. Read on for the key takeaways, and don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Sixty-four percent of patients studied experienced “symptoms of significant breathlessness.” This echos previous research. CNN had reported last month that “researchers from the Academic Respiratory Unit of the North Bristol NHS Trust in the UK looked at 110 Covid-19 patients, whose illnesses required hospital stays for a median of five days between March 30 and June 3. Twelve weeks after patients were released from the hospital, 74% of them reported symptoms, including breathlessness and excessive fatigue.”
Fifty-five percent of patients studied “complained of fatigue.” “If you talk to a significant number of people, they will tell you that, for anywhere from weeks to months and possibly longer, that they have symptoms that are characterized by fatigue,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, told 60 Minutes on Sunday. Fauci calls the symptoms “highly suggestive” of Chronic fatigue syndrome, also called CFS, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, a debilitating syndrome that causes fatigue, migraines and other inflammatory symptoms—for which there is currently no cure.
“Patients were more likely to report symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety and depression and a significant impairment in all domains of quality of life compared to controls.” Needless to say, the symptoms can cause mental distress, but experts also believe COVID can infect the brain, causing delirium.
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“Exercise tolerance (maximal oxygen consumption and ventilatory efficiency on CPET) and six-minute walk distance were significantly reduced in patients,” say the new study’s authors. “The extent of extra-pulmonary MRI abnormalities and exercise tolerance correlated with serum markers of ongoing inflammation and severity of acute illness.”
Says the study: “On MRI, tissue signal abnormalities were seen in the lungs (60%), heart (26%), liver (10%) and kidneys (29%) of patients. COVID-19 patients also exhibited tissue changes in the thalamus, posterior thalamic radiations and sagittal stratum on brain MRI and demonstrated impaired cognitive performance, specifically in the executive and visuospatial domain relative to controls.” Dr. Fauci has also warned of cardiovascular damage.
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“A significant proportion of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital experience ongoing symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue, anxiety, depression and exercise limitation at 2-3 months from disease-onset,” they write. “Persistent lung and extra-pulmonary organ MRI findings are common. In COVID-19 survivors, chronic inflammation may underlie multiorgan abnormalities and contribute to impaired quality of life.” If you experienced any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately—and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.