Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, According to Scientists
More than 10% of those who get COVID will feel sicker, longer—they are victims of Long COVID, or Post-COVID Syndrome. The symptoms can be as painful as they are unnerving: tinnitus, migraines, myalgia, hair loss—the horrors never cease. Now, a new study has determined the most common characteristics. "This is the first study on COVID investigating 3,762 patients beyond 6 months of illness, tracking the prevalence of 205 symptoms in 10 organ systems," say the researchers. "We focused on mapping the longer-term impact of COVID-19 on health, work, and returning to baseline." Read on to see if you have the most frequent symptoms reported after month 6—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You Will Most Likely Suffer Fatigue
Up to 80.3% Experienced This
In nearly every study of Long COVID, fatigue is the most common symptom. This fatigue doesn't just make you feel "sleepy"; it's a soul-sucking, full-body drain that can leave many incapacitated, or at the very least feeling "no longer themselves." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has likened Long COVID to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis, for which there is no cure. The hallmark symptom for CFS/ME is a fatigue that doesn't improve after six months—and worsens with exertion. Which leads us to our next slide….
You Will Likely Have Post-Exertional Malaise
Up to 75.0% Experienced This
Post-exertional malaise—aka "PEM"—"has been described as a cluster of symptoms following mental or physical exertion, often involving a loss of physical or mental stamina, rapid muscle or cognitive fatigability, and sometimes lasting 24 hours or more," reports one study. The worsening symptoms can include "fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, cognitive deficits, insomnia, and swollen lymph nodes. It can occur after even the simplest everyday tasks, such as walking, showering, or having a conversation."
You Will Likely Have Cognitive Dysfunction
Up to 58.8% Experienced This
Long Haulers have reported "brain fog"—which Dr. Fauci describes as a difficulty to concentrate—as well as hallucinations, confusion and clumsiness. "Many other long haulers describe their most debilitating persistent symptom as impaired memory and concentration, often with extreme fatigue," reports JAMA Network. "The effects are different from the cognitive impairment patients might experience after a critical illness." "I do think there's a subset of patients [who] weren't even in the hospital who have a postviral brain fog," said COVID-19 Recovery Clinic (CORE) of Montefiore Medical Center in New York, codirector Aluko Hope, MD, MSCE.
How Long Do These Symptoms Last? How Will They Impact Your Life?
"These three symptoms were also the three most commonly reported overall," say the study's authors. How long will they last? Long COVID may last forever; after all, there is no cure for CFS/ME. Other people recover within a year. Doctors just don't know yet. To get granular, according to the study: "In those who recovered in less than 90 days, the average number of symptoms peaked at week 2, and in those who did not recover in 90 days, the average number of symptoms peaked at month 2. Respondents with symptoms over 6 months experienced an average of 13.8 symptoms in month 7," they continued. "85.9% experienced relapses, with exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress as the main triggers. 86.7% of unrecovered respondents were experiencing fatigue at the time of survey, compared to 44.7% of recovered respondents. 45.2% reported requiring a reduced work schedule compared to pre-illness and 22.3% were not working at the time of survey due to their health conditions."
What to Do If You Have Long COVID Symptoms
"Patients with Long COVID report prolonged multisystem involvement and significant disability," report the study's authors. "Most had not returned to previous levels of work by 6 months. Many patients are not recovered by 7 months, and continue to experience significant symptom burden." If you experience 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.