If You Feel Tired After This, You May Have Had COVID

This surprising symptom may mean you're a COVID long hauler.

With the stresses and strains of daily life during a pandemic, a little exhaustion is considered par for the course. But experts caution that some forms of new exhaustion could indicate a much deeper problem. In particular, one new study suggests that if you feel unusually tired after exerting yourself mentally or physically, it could actually be a sign that you've got what some experts call "long COVID," an extended case in which symptoms can persist for months, even after the virus is no longer transmissible. Read on to learn more, and for additional information on the signs you've had COVID, check out If You Have This Subtle Symptom, You Might Have Already Had COVID.

The December study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was conducted by researchers out of University College London, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine, and Oregon Health and Science University. What they found was that among individuals who experienced prolonged symptoms, 72 percent reported experiencing "post-exertional malaise" or PEM, when a patient feels extra tired following mental or physical exertion.

The research team created a survey to identify the most commonly reported long COVID symptoms in a diverse population of patients. With 3,762 respondents from 56 countries, the patients ranged greatly in age, and included male, female, and nonbinary individuals. All had experienced long COVID, with 96 percent of those respondents reporting symptoms beyond 90 days in duration.

The researchers found that there were three key symptoms that were both most common overall, and most common after six months from the time of exposure. These were feeling tired or fatigued, having PEM, and experiencing cognitive dysfunction.

These three symptoms, as it turns out, are closely intertwined: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatigue is made worse by PEM, and PEM can lead to an increase in cognitive problems, such as memory and concentration deficits, also known as brain fog.

The CDC further explains that PEM typically emerges within 12 to 48 hours after activity and can last for days or weeks. The health authority suggests mitigating PEM by pacing your activities and balancing them with rest to avoid serious flare-ups of fatigue and the ensuing cognitive symptoms.

Of course, that's not the only long COVID symptom you might be battling. Read on for more symptoms that are found in prolonged cases, and to learn about a serious long COVID symptom, check out The "Really Disturbing" Long COVID Symptom Doctors Want You to Prepare For.

Read the original article on Best Life.


Tired woman with headache at home, wearing mask.

For many COVID patients, a headache is the first sign that something is wrong. Now, researchers are noting that it can also be the last symptom to subside in long COVID patients.

"We're seeing a small subset of people who have prolonged headache symptoms long after their acute illness is over," Valeriya Klats, MD, a neurologist with the Ayer Institute Headache Center, said while speaking with Hartford HealthCare. "This can either be episodic or an all-day, everyday headache," she explains. And for more on the early signs of COVID, check out The Earliest Signs You Have COVID, According to Johns Hopkins.

Difficulty breathing

Man Having Trouble Breathing, health risks after 40

Those with long COVID often find that their respiratory symptoms persist after others have subsided. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains, "Even in those with a mild-to-moderate infection—the effects of COVID-19 can persist in the lungs for months." To this point, they cited a study published in EClinicalMedicine that determined that three months after leaving the hospital, roughly 70 percent of study subjects continued to experience abnormal lung scans, suggesting that the lungs were "still damaged and trying to heal." And for more regular COVID news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Loss of taste or smell

Woman tasting food she is making before seasoning

According to UC Davis Health, some long hauler patients experience a loss of taste and smell for an extended period after other symptoms have faded, "even if this didn't occur at the height of illness."

This set of symptoms is also a very strong indicator of COVID more generally. One study published in PLOS Medicine found that more than 80 percent of people who reported a loss of their olfactory senses later tested positive for coronavirus. And for more on what your symptoms mean, check out If You Have This Symptom, You're More Likely to Have a Mild COVID Case.

Joint or muscle pain

Tired woman with back pain in bed

According to the Mayo Clinic, joint and muscle pain (also known as myalgia) are common long term symptoms of COVID. One recent article in the medical journal The Lancet points out that this could be a particularly troubling symptom, given that chronic pain is already a poorly managed area of medicine.

"The slowly evolving knowledge of other poorly understood conditions (such as chronic pain and functional disorders) shows the risks for patients who feel that their symptoms are being diminished or ignored. Without clear acknowledgment, honest communication, and careful patient-centered research, patients face unsatisfactory outcomes. Such mistakes must not be repeated for long COVID," the researchers wrote. And for another strange coronavirus symptom to be aware of, check out If This Part of Your Body Hurts, You Could Have COVID.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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