Among people with Covid-19, one in eight retain one of the characteristic symptoms of prolonged Covid for a long time, a large study published on Friday shows.
These symptoms include “abdominal pain, difficulty and pain in breathing, muscle pain, ageusia or anosmia (loss of taste or smell: ed. note), tingling, discomfort in the throat, hot flashes or coldness, heaviness in the arms or legs, and like general fatigue,” lists this study, published in The Lancet.
“In 12.7% of patients, these symptoms can be attributed to Covid-19,” the authors conclude, three to five months after infection.
This work carried out in the Netherlands, in terms of scope and methodology, is an important part for a better understanding of the risk of long-term Covid, that is, the persistence of long-term symptoms after coronavirus infection.
At the current level of knowledge, we know that some patients have consequences that are characteristic of a coronavirus infection and that they cannot be explained solely by psychosomatic disorders, as some doctors originally assumed.
But the frequency of these disorders, and even more so the physiological mechanisms by which they arise, are largely unknown.
If the Lancet study does not provide an answer to this second question, it does better clarify the first element, firstly because it was conducted on a large number of patients: more than 4,000 people with Covid.
In these patients, a Covid-19 episode was confirmed by a PCR test or a doctor’s diagnosis.
Finally, and this is an important innovation, the responses of these patients were compared with those of a group of people who did not have Covid.
Because it is possible to feel one of the listed symptoms without being the cause of Covid. In fact, almost 9% of people who have not had Covid have one of the symptoms described earlier.
Among former Covid patients, this proportion rises to 21.4%. By subtraction, the researchers manage to conclude that just over 12% of people affected by Covid have consequences specifically related to the disease.
However, this study has certain limitations, such as not measuring the frequency of other symptoms associated with long-term Covid, including, in particular, depression or confusion.