THIS graphic reveals the most common symptoms plaguing long Covid sufferers.
It comes from a study that found eight in ten people who have had the coronavirus still battle at least one long-term side effect lasting more than two weeks.
The most common symptoms plaguing long Covid sufferers, as revealed by a research paper
The analysis of all current evidence on the topic found more than 50 symptoms in so-called “long haulers”.
Researchers in the US ranked each symptom based on how common they were in the 47,910 patients studied.
The five most common symptoms were fatigue (58 per cent), headache (44 per cent), attention disorder (27 per cent), hair loss (25 per cent), and shortness of breath (24 per cent).
Some of the less frequent problems were paranoia, PTSD, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and arrhythmia.
But the scientists said there could be more symptoms yet to be identified in the future as the condition is studied more closely.
Other scientists have said there could be 170 crippling symptoms, including rashes, brain fog, stabbing heart pains and depression.
Scientists warned some of the long Covid symptoms could go on for many months, or years based on other coronaviruses such as SARS.
Writing in a paper which has not yet been reviewed by other experts, Dr Sandra Lopez-Leon, and others wrote: “Although such alteration is mostly reported in severe and critical disease survivors, the lasting effects also occur in individuals with a mild infection who did not require hospitalization.
“It has not yet been established if sex, gender, age, ethnicity, underlying health conditions, viral dose, or progression of COVID-19 significantly affect the risk of developing long-term effects of COVID-19.
“We identified a total of 55 long-term effects associated with COVID-19 in the literature reviewed.”
The team detailed the most common symptoms:
Almost six in ten people suffer fatigue – severe tiredness – after recovering from Covid.
Some are dealing with fatigue 100 days after they first became unwell with the coronavirus.
Various studies have now found fatigue to be the most frequent and debilitating long Covid problem.
Dr Lopez-Leon and colleagues said fatigue and other long Covid symptoms are similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
CFS is a long-term illness that causes someone to feel extremely tired as well as having sleep problems, joint and muscle pain, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.
They said it would be “tempting to say” that Covid was another cause of CFS.
Several “neuropsychiatric symptoms” – mental disorders linked with disease of the nervous symptom – were discovered by the research team.
These were headaches (44 per cent), attention disorder (27 per cent) and loss of smell (21 per cent).
They could be a result of the coronavirus directly impacting the brain, oxygen deprivation during Covid, medications, or the stress of having Covid – a deadly disease.
One in four people who previously had Covid report hair loss, which can be distressing.
“Hair loss could be considered as telogen effluvium”, the researchers said, which is when the hair cycle is distrubed.
It leads to more hair shedding and thinning, rather than complete baldness.
Someone may notice that more hair than usual is falling out when they wash or brush their hair, or find clumps on their pillow or in the drain.
It is usually caused by stress, poor diet, weight loss, a health condition, pregnancy, and the menopause, and typically affects women.
The good news is telogen effluvium appears to be a short term problem, lasting around three months.
“But it could cause emotional distress”, the paper said.
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath – medically called dyspnea – was found in a quarter of Covid surviors.
And abnormalities in lung scans were seen in 35 per cent of patients, up to 100 days after sickness with the coronavirus.
Decreases in lung function were seen in 10 per cent.
The researchers said it is difficult to assess whether lung problems were there prior to Covid because most patients do not have a “before” scan to compare with.
How common was each symptom of long Covid found?
- Fatigue: 80 per cent
- Headache: 58 per cent
- Attention disorder: 27 per cent
- Hair loss: 25 per cent
- Shortness of breath: 24 per cent
- Loss of taste: 23 per cent
- Loss of smell: 21 per cent
- Post activity breathlessness: 21 per cent
- Joint pain: 19 per cent
- Cough: 19 per cent
- Sweat: 17 per cent
- Nausea or vomit: 16 per cent
- Chest pain: 16 per cent
- Memory loss: 16 per cent
- Hearing loss or tinnitus: 15 per cent
- Anxiety: 13 per cent
- Depresson: 12 per cent
- Digestive disorders: 12 per cent
- Weight loss: 12 per cent
- Skin problems: 12 per cent
- Resting heart rate increase: 11 per cent
- Palpitations: 11 per cent
- Pain: 11 per cent
- Intermittenet fever: 11 per cent
- Sleep disorder: 11 per cent
- Reduced pulmonary diffusing capacity: 10 per cent
- Sleep apnea: 8 per cent
- Chills: 7 per cent
- Health care related mental health: 7 per cent
- Psychiatric illness: 6 per cent
- Red eyes: 6 per cent
- Pulmonary fibrosis: 5 per ent
- Flushing: 5 per cent
- Diabetes: 4 per cent
- Sputum/mucus: 3 per cent
- Swelling of limb: 3 per cent
- Dizziness: 3 per cent
- Stroke: 3 per cent
- Throat pain: 3 per cent
- Mood disorders: 2 per cent
- Dysphoria: 2 per cent
- OCD: 2 per cent
- New high blood pressure: 1 per cent
- Heart inflammation: 1 per cent
- Kidney failure: 1 per cent
- PTSD: 1 per cent
- Arrhythmia: 0.4 per cent
- Paranoia: 0.3 per cent
Plus seven other abnormalities from lab tests, scans or examinations, including abnormal chest scan 34 per cent.
A wave of long Covid sufferers
The pandemic has left a wave of people suffering persistent symptoms in its wake, and its expected to cost the NHS.
It’s not clear how many people will have long Covid, but it is expected to be hundreds of thousands.
Research from the Office for National Statistics has shown one in five people with coronavirus are still suffering five weeks later.
One in ten who tested positive have symptoms of 12 weeks or longer.
The statistics, published in December, said around 186,000 people in England had long Covid in any given week in November.
It could be higher now, given that thousands of more coronavirus cases have been diagnosed since.
Speaking of the findings, Dr David Strain, from the University of Exeter Medical School, said: The long-term consequences for these individuals, and for the population as a whole, could be potentially devastating in terms of physical manifestations for the individuals but also the economic impact of these individuals being unable to work.”
While some suffer only one or two irritating long term effects, some can experience several which make life difficult.
Even everyday tasks such as walking up the stairs or going for a walk can feel impossible, which has a knock on effect for people’s ability to work.
Some scientists say the symptoms can be divided into three or four categories.
The NHS has set up more than 60 clinics to help treat those with long Covid, costing £10 million.
Patients can access services if they are referred by a GP or another healthcare professional, so that doctors can first rule out other possible underlying causes for symptoms.