Early in the pandemic, fatigue—a common side effect of many illnesses—was identified as one of the many possible symptoms of COVID-19. However, continued research has found that many coronavirus sufferers are still experiencing severe exhaustion long after the virus is gone. In fact, according to new research set to be presented at the ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease, over 50 percent of COVID patients are experiencing "persistent" fatigue for several months after a negative test—regardless of the seriousness of their infection. Read on, and to protect your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"Fatigue is a Common Symptom"
In a statement, Dr. Liam Townsend, St James's Hospital and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues reveal that over half of patients with both mild and severe COVID infections are experiencing long-term exhaustion.
"Fatigue is a common symptom in those presenting with symptomatic Covid-19 infection," he said, noting that while "presenting features" of the virus are well known at this point, "the medium- and long-term consequences of infection remain unexplored."
The small study of 128 participants were recruited approximately 2.5 months post-illness. Though their symptoms should have subsided at that point, more than half reported they were still experiencing fatigue.
"In particular, concern has been raised that SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to cause persistent fatigue, even after those infected have recovered from COVID-19. In our study, we investigated whether patients recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection remained fatigued after their physical recovery, and to see whether there was a relationship between severe fatigue and a variety of clinical parameters. We also examined persistence of markers of disease beyond clinical resolution of infection," Dr. Townsend explains.
A Group Worthy of Further Study
Despite looking for clues to explain the prolonged fatigue, they found none. However, they do note that while women represented just over half of the patients in the study (54%), two-thirds of those with persistent fatigue (67%) were women. They also revealed that those who reported fatigue were more likely to have a history of anxiety or depression.
Researchers point out that it isn't just COVID patients who suffer from severe infections who can sustain long-term damage. "This study highlights the importance of assessing those recovering from COVID-19 for symptoms of severe fatigue, irrespective of severity of initial illness, and may identify a group worthy of further study and early intervention," the study authors wrote. As for yourself: to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.