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These 5 Symptoms May Predict if You Become COVID Long Hauler, Study Suggests

FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Woman with sore throat at home

The symptoms of Long COVID, or PASC (post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection), can terrorize victims for months, possibly years. Now, a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Medicine indicates that you may be able to predict whether you get it. "Experiencing more than five symptoms during the first week of illness was associated with long COVID," say the researchers. Read on to discover the symptoms the researchers noted— and to stay safe, remember: You "Should Not Get" COVID Vaccine If You Have This Condition, Says CDC.

1

You May Have Fatigue

Woman lying on her bed with her eyes closed.
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Fatigue is the #1 most common symptom among long haulers. "There is no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a post-viral syndrome that really in many respects can incapacitate them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery and clearing of the virus," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last year. "You can see people who've recovered who really do not get back to normal that they have things that are highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Brain fog, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating so this is something we really need to seriously look at." He says $1.15 billion has been devoted in funding to doing so.

2

You May Have a Headache

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"A headache is one of the first signs of COVID-19 virus, but it's now also being recognized as a symptom that lingers long after the illness is over. Dr. Valeriya Klats, a neurologist and headache specialist with the Hartford HealthCare (HHC) Ayer Institute Headache Center in Fairfield County, said the persistent headaches take several forms, but are typically bad enough that people present for medical care," reports Hartford Healthcare. "We're seeing a small subset of people who have prolonged headache symptom long after their acute illness is over," she said. "This can either be episodic or an all-day, everyday headache. The way we describe this is the new 'daily persistent headache.' It's very bothersome to patients."

3

You May Have Shortness of Breath

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"We know that COVID-19 attacks the lungs, causing inflammation. This may leave survivors with persistent shortness of breath. Some people who recover from COVID-19 can experience a dry cough or pain when breathing after the illness. Those who had to be placed on a ventilator may have more severe symptoms," reports Hackensack Meridian Health. "If you've had COVID-19 and you're still having trouble breathing, talk to your doctor about a pulmonary evaluation for treatment and rehabilitation to help rebuild strength," says Laurie Jacobs, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.

4

You May Lose Your Sense of Smell

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"Almost a year later, some still haven't recovered these senses, and for a proportion of people who have, odours are now warped: unpleasant scents have taken the place of normally delightful ones," reports Nature. "One review, published last June, compiled data from 8,438 people with COVID-19, and found that 41% had reported experiencing smell loss. In another study, published in August, a team led by researcher Shima T. Moein at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences in Tehran, Iran, administered a smell-identification test to 100 people with COVID-19 in which the patients sniffed odours and identified them on a multiple-choice basis. Ninety-six per cent of the participants had some olfactory dysfunction, and 18% had total smell loss (otherwise known as anosmia)."

5

You May Have a Persistent Cough

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"Jess Christian-Roth, 47, said she has had coronavirus symptoms ever since March, when she tested positive for the virus," reports the Statesman Journal. "She could barely walk the distance from her bedroom to the kitchen and had hardly enough breath to hold a conversation….As she spoke, Christian-Roth paused to cough." "Sorry, talking still kind of makes me winded," she told the Journal. "Even all these months later."

6

You May Have Any of These Symptoms

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According to the researchers:

  • You May Have a Sore Throat
  • You May Have a Fever
  • You May Have Unusual Muscle Pains
  • You May Skip Meals
  • You May Have Chest Pain
  • You May Have Diarrhea
  • You May Have a Hoarse Voice
  • You May Have Abdominal Pain
  • You May Have Delirium
  • You May Have Any Combination of These Symptoms

"We found two main patterns of symptomatology," say the researchers, "individuals reporting exclusively fatigue, headache and upper respiratory complaints (shortness of breath, sore throat, persistent cough and loss of smell) and those with additional multisystem complaints, including ongoing fever and gastroenterological symptoms." If you experienced any of these, contact a medical professional, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.