Most People With Severe Coronavirus Can't Get Rid of These 2 Symptoms

These two symptoms are lingering in some patients for weeks after they've left the hospital.

Leaving the hospital after recovering from COVID-19 is certainly cause for celebration. But a new study suggests that more than half of patients continue to suffer from multiple symptoms of the trauma caused by the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus for weeks after they've been discharged. The Italian study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), checked in with recovering COVID patients an average of five weeks after they were discharged from the hospital. What the researchers found was that most of them were still dealing with two symptoms in particular: extreme tiredness and labored breathing.

The study tracked 143 patients, ages 19 to 84, who spent an average of two weeks in a Rome hospital; one fifth of them needed ventilation support. Five weeks after being sent home, more than half of the patients (53 percent) reported fatigue and nearly half (43 percent) were still experiencing shortness of breath.

The next two most common symptoms among the patients were joint pain (27 percent) and chest pain (nearly 22 percent), according to the study. Only 13 percent were completely free of COVID symptoms, while 87 percent reported at least one persistent symptom.

Woman experiencing labored breath

But researchers aren't necessarily surprised at the long recovery period. After the 2003 SARS outbreak, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that some survivors interviewed four years after recovery still experienced chronic fatigue.

"The harsh reality is that many patients continue to experience lingering symptoms for weeks and months after being diagnosed with and 'recovering' from COVID-19," Robert Glatter, MD, emergency medicine physician at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, told HealthDay. "While this small [Italian] study found that fatigue and shortness of breath were the two most common symptoms, many people also experience many other lingering symptoms including low-grade fevers, and neurologic symptoms such as numbness and tingling."

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Some researchers believe that the ongoing health problems may be due to chronic inflammation as the body's immune system continues to attack the viral infection.

Glatter pointed out that people recovering from COVID-19 may also deal with issues of depression and anxiety months after diagnosis, "making the disease not only physically but emotionally disabling," he said. And to learn about another silent COVID-19 symptom, check out The "Key Symptom" of Coronavirus You're Probably Ignoring.

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Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more
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