The 5 Scary Symptoms COVID Patients Can't Get Rid Of, New Study Says

Over 75 percent of the study subjects still had at least one symptom six months later.

Across the globe, over two million people have died of COVID-19 to date. And while death is a very real and frightening prospect, patients are increasingly worrying about facing a grim alternative: a partial recovery with lingering symptoms, also known as "long COVID."

While most coronavirus symptoms tend to subside in a matter of weeks, some patients find that certain symptoms persist long-term, even after testing negative for the virus. One study published in the medical journal The Lancet has identified five symptoms long COVID patients tend to struggle with most frequently.

And there's reason to take note. Beyond naming those symptoms, the researchers also came to the startling conclusion that lingering symptoms are more common than you might think: 76 percent of patients in the study reported at least one lingering symptom six months after their first onset symptom.

With 1,733 subjects and a six-month study period, the researchers believe their work to be the "largest cohort study with the longest follow-up duration" to date. Using patient data from the medical database PubMed as well as follow-up phone interviews led by trained medical staff, the team compiled their list of the top five symptoms most common in long COVID. Read on to learn about these five scary symptoms, and for more signs of coronavirus, check out If This Part of Your Body Hurts, You Could Have COVID.

Read the original article on Best Life.



Fatigued man resting on couch

Fatigue topped the researchers' list of long-lasting COVID symptoms, mirroring findings from the CDC.  According to the researchers, 63 percent of study subjects reported fatigue or muscle weakness at the time of their follow-up calls, six months after their first onset symptom. And for more on how fatigue can affect you after recovering from COVID, check out If You Have This Subtle Symptom, You Might Have Already Had COVID.

Muscle aches or weakness


Woman rubbing aching back

Muscle pain, also known as myalgia, is another common symptom of long COVID. One report from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that roughly 15 percent of "long hauler" patients experience muscle aches and pains.

According to a study published in the medical journal Clinical Rheumatology, these muscle pains sometimes include severe back pain in COVID cases that develop into pneumonia. "Myalgia and fatigue in patients with COVID-19 may be longer in duration than other viral infections and may be unresponsive to conventional painkillers," the authors of that study wrote.

Sleep difficulties


Woman having trouble sleeping at night with insomnia

One study published in the journal Sleep Medicine recently noted that "very high rates of clinically significant insomnia" have emerged since the start of the pandemic—even among the healthy. So it's no surprise that the researchers behind the original study in The Lancet found that over a quarter of their long COVID patients suffered from this symptom at the time of their follow-up call.

According to a Q&A with Rachel Manber, MD, the director of the Stanford Sleep Health and Insomnia Program (SHIP), several symptoms associated with severe or prolonged COVID cases can affect sleep. She explains that "depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, night-time panic attacks, and physical conditions that cause acute or chronic pain" can contribute to chronic sleep disturbances. And for more on surprising COVID symptoms, check out This Strange Symptom Could Be the Only Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.



Man experiencing anxiety and depression wife helping him

Anxiety is another post-COVID condition commonly reported after other symptoms have subsided. In fact, the researchers behind the study in The Lancet determined that 23 percent of subjects continued to experience anxiety and depression six months after their first onset symptom.

Of course, many experts anticipate that even those who haven't contracted coronavirus may struggle with anxiety long-term as a result of the pandemic. Steven Taylor, PhD, author of The Psychology of Pandemics, recently told the BBC that "for an unfortunate minority of people, perhaps 10 to 15 percent, life will not return to normal" due to the strain on mental health.



Sad man looking out window

Similarly, depression was found to be commonly reported after other COVID symptoms had faded. Experts believe that depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and other mental health concerns are the consequence of post-traumatic stress.

According to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, this has been demonstrated in similar outbreaks including those of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In each of these cases, recovered patients were found to have elevated rates of mood disorders, psychosis, and suicide rates one year later. And for more on long COVID, check out The "Really Disturbing" Long COVID Symptom Doctors Want You to Prepare For.

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