COVID long haulers experience health issues even after weeks of recovery from COVID-19. The health issues include breathing problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and neurological conditions.
‘Two major symptom clusters of COVID-19 are prevalent among COVID long haulers. The first is a combination of fatigue, headache, and upper respiratory tract problems, and the other set consists of multisystem complications along with fever and gastrointestinal disorders.’
“There is evidence that the impact of acute COVID-19 on patients, regardless of severity, extends beyond hospitalization in the most severe cases, to ongoing impaired quality of life, mental health, and employment issues,” said lead author Olalekan Lee Aiyegbusi.
The symptom clusters
To analyze the long covid symptoms, the team conducted a review of current evidence on symptom prevalence, complications, and management of long COVID. Based on the investigation, the widely prevalent symptoms included fatigue, chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, altered smell and taste, and diarrhea.
There were two major symptom clusters, one of which is a combination of fatigue, headache, and upper respiratory tract problems, and the other set consists of multisystem complications along with fever and gastrointestinal disorders.
They also found that COVID long haulers may follow a similar disease trajectory as patients with SARS or MERS infection, where approximately 25% of the patients were hospitalized due to poor lung function.
Need for healthcare models
The team also reported that patients in one of the studies included in their review still feel sick and experience a worse clinical condition at eight weeks than at the onset of COVID-19.
“The wide range of potential symptoms and complications patients with long COVID may experience highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the clinical course of the condition. There is an urgent need for better, more integrated care models to support and manage patients with long COVID to improve clinical outcomes,” concluded the study’s co-principal investigator Melanie Calvert, a professor at the University of Birmingham.