Common symptoms of Covid lung disease, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, have a significant impact on patients’ daily activities, quality of life and ability to work.
But the symptoms of Covid lung disease are much broader than that. In a new study published in the journal nature medicine, we identified 62 symptoms associated with lung COVID-19. We also examined a number of factors associated with an increased risk of developing lung COVID-19.
Much of the research to understand COVID-19 has focused on hospitalized patients. But most patients infected with the Covid virus have been treated in primary care. So we know relatively little about Covid lung disease in patients with milder primary infections.
In our study, we analyzed the electronic primary care records of more than 450,000 patients in England with a confirmed diagnosis of MERS-CoV and 1.9 million patients with no prior history of COVID-19, from January 2020 to April 2021. We matched the two groups very closely in terms of their demographic characteristics. Social and clinical. Next, we considered the relative differences in reporting 115 symptoms to GPs. For those who contracted the virus, we measured this at least 12 weeks after they were infected.
We found that people diagnosed with COVID were more likely to report 62 symptoms, of which only 20 are included in the WHO clinical definition of lung virus.
Some of these symptoms, such as loss of smell, shortness of breath and fatigue, were to be expected. But some of the symptoms we found strongly associated with Covid at week 12 were surprising and lesser known, such as hair loss and decreased libido. Other symptoms included chest pain, fever, bowel incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and swollen extremities.
These differences in reported symptoms persisted between affected and unaffected groups even after taking into account age, gender, ethnic group, socioeconomic status, body mass index, smoking behavior, presence of more than 80 health conditions, and previous reports of the same symptoms.
We also found that younger age, female gender, affiliation with certain ethnic minority groups, lower socioeconomic status, smoking, obesity, and a wide range of health conditions were all associated with a higher risk of reporting persistent symptoms for more than 12 weeks after infection with the virus. infection.
Given the breadth and variety of symptoms of COVID lung disease reported in surveys, it is unlikely that lung COVID-19 represents a single case, but rather a group of different conditions that occur as a result of COVID infection. By studying how symptoms of COVID-19 differ in different groups, scientists can better understand the different disease processes in the body that cause COVID-19 lung disease.
Our analysis indicates that COVID-19 lung disease can be divided into three distinct groups based on the combinations of symptoms reported. The largest group, which includes about 80 percent of the lung COVID-19 patients in our study, experienced a wide range of symptoms, ranging from fatigue, to headaches, to pain. The second largest group, 15 percent, had mainly psychological and cognitive symptoms, including depression, anxiety, brain fog and insomnia. The third and youngest group, which accounted for the remaining 5 percent, mostly had respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
We were only able to assess the reported symptoms during a general practitioner’s consultation. Of course, not everyone will report symptoms to a doctor, so our study was limited to comparing differences in reported symptoms between patients and patients without a confirmed history of COVID-19. It is also possible that some patients in the comparison group had the virus but were not tested or did not tell their GP.
However, our study confirms what lung COVID-19 patients have been saying throughout the pandemic about the breadth and diversity of their symptoms. It also reinforces that their symptoms cannot simply be attributed to other factors such as existing health problems or the effects of stress related to going through the pandemic.
To support the millions of patients around the world suffering from the chronic health effects of the lung virus, clinicians and researchers need comprehensive tools to map symptoms of COVID-19 so that they can provide the best care.
Patients with lung COVID-19 require dedicated health services that recognize that lung virus is not a single condition, but rather a diverse set of overlapping conditions that require individualized care.
Meanwhile, we need clinical trials to evaluate potential treatments that target a range of COVID-19 symptoms, and that we hope will improve the quality of life for people with the disease.
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