Here are the 12 most common long COVID symptoms found in a new study

A new federal study identifies the 12 symptoms that most distinctly characterize long COVID, but fails to explain why about 10% of people who experience even mild COVID-19 infection experience health problems that can persist for months. , even years.

The National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER program analyzed nearly 10,000 participants and identified the dozen most commonly reported illnesses out of about 200 previously recognized long-term COVID symptoms. The 12 conditions range from brain fog and heart palpitations to sexual impotence and digestive disorders.

Despite these findings, scientists still don’t know what causes long COVID, why it only affects certain people, or even how to treat and diagnose it.

The team behind the study said that although the investigation is not conclusive, it provides scientists with a “common language” to start working on treatments.

“Now that we’re able to identify people with long COVID, we can start doing deeper studies to understand the biological mechanisms at play,” said co-author Andrea Foulkes, a professor at Harvard Medical School. , in a press release. . “One of the big takeaways from this study is the heterogeneity of long COVID: long COVID is not just one syndrome; it is a syndrome of syndromes.

The 12 main symptoms identified in the study were:

  • Loss of smell or taste

  • Post-exercise discomfort

  • A chronic cough

  • brain fog

  • The thirst

  • Palpitations

  • Chest pain

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Problems with sexual desire or ability

  • Abnormal movements, such as tremors, involuntary movements, or stiffness

But those aren’t the only symptoms that define long COVID, the researchers said. Patients may have one or more of these symptoms – or others not listed – and suffer long-term consequences from the coronavirus.

“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘Oh, everyone’s a little tired,'” Dr. Leora Horwitz, co-principal investigator of the RECOVER Clinical Science Core at NYU Langone Health, said in the release. “No, there’s something different about people who have long COVID, and that’s important to know.”

The new research, published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved more than 8,600 adults who had COVID-19 at different stages of the pandemic, compared with 1,100 who were uninfected.

The team identified 37 common symptoms that persisted after six months in COVID-19 patients compared to those not infected with the virus. Of these, the 12 in the study were the most frequently reported. About 20% of people with COVID met the criteria for suffering long COVID — also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC — after six months.

“Americans living with long COVID want to understand what’s going on with their bodies,” Dr. Rachel L. Levine, assistant secretary for health, said in the statement.

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