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Patients Describe "Most Distressing" Symptoms After COVID

Survivors said these PASC symptoms caused the most distress.

Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC), aka the long version of COVID-19, may impact up to one in three people infected with the virus—including individuals who present with little to no initial symptoms. Now, a new preprint study hopes to offer a deeper understanding of what these people, who call themselves long haulers, are suffering, by evaluating the timing, duration, and health impacts of PASC. After surveying 5,163 survivors who reported prolonged symptoms of 21 days or more, they have compiled a list of post-COVID symptoms that cause the "most distress," measuring them on a scale of 1 (no pain) to 5 (a great deal.) Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise. 


You Might Have Bone Pain in Extremities

Senior woman with arm pain

According to the survey aches and pains in bones and muscles can be quite distressful, averaging a 4.1 out of 5 in regard to pain level. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, these types of symptoms are usually due to inflammation. "Inflammatory processes such as bursitis, tendinitis, or even a gout attack are just a few of the things that can cause musculoskeletal pain," explains Stuart J. Fischer, MD, FAAOS.


You Might Have Persistent Chest Pain or Pressure

Woman pressing her chest.

Chest pain or pressure that just won't quit is another incredibly debilitating symptom that long haulers deal with, averaging a 4.1 out of 5 in pain level. Per the Mayo Clinic sudden, sharp chest pains—aka pleurisy—may point to inflammation in the lung walls. 


You Might Have a Headache

Sick woman suffering from head ache

A headache is an extremely common complaint of long haulers, and according to the survey, one of the worst with a 4.2 out of 5 rating. Some long haulers, including a woman in this case report, claim that headaches trouble them for several months after their initial infection. 


You Might Have Brain Pressure

man in white casual t-shirt, holding head with both hands, suffering from severe headache

Slightly different from a headache, brain pressure was reported to be a 4.2 out of 5 in terms of distress, per the respondents. 


You Might Have Sharp or Sudden Chest Pain

Man with chest pain

Even more painful than persistent chest pain? Sharp or sudden chest pain, according to those surveyed who gave it a 4.2 out of 5 rating in terms of severity.  


You Might Have Syncope

Woman hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness with motion

Syncope (pronounced "sin ko pea") involves fainting or passing out and was the second most distressful symptom per the study, given a 4.3 out of 5. According to the Cleveland Clinic it is caused by a temporary drop in the amount of blood that flows to the brain. "Syncope can happen if you have a sudden drop in blood pressure, a drop in heart rate, or changes in the amount of blood in areas of your body," they explain. 


You Might Have Extreme Pressure at the Base of Your Head

man suffering from neck pain

According to the long haulers surveyed, the most distressful of all symptoms was extreme pressure at the base of the head. It was given a 4.4 out of 5 on the pain scale. 

RELATED: Doctors Say "DO NOT" Do This After Your COVID Vaccine.


Protect Yourself and Others 

Woman putting a second face mask.

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah