MU researchers pinpoint symptoms directly related to long COVID
New research from the University of Missouri has pinpointed the symptoms of what is known as "long COVID," symptoms that linger months or years after the COVID virus has left their bodies.
What surprised researchers are that there are just seven long COVID symptoms specific to the COVID virus.
Shortness of breath
"COVID-specific long-term sequelae in comparison to common viral respiratory infections: an analysis of 17,487 infected adult patients" was published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Sequelae is a medical term for having long-term consequences.
The research looked at the electronic medical records of 52,461 patients at 122 hospitals, with identifying information deleted.
The research looked at three categories of patients: people diagnosed with COVID but with no other viral respiratory infections, people with common respiratory infections, but not diagnosed with COVID and people with neither COVID or a viral respiratory infection, said Chi-Ren Shyu, director of the MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics.
"That's the reason for the large scale of data," Shyu said.
The analysis reviewed 47 commonly reported symptoms of long COVID.
Study co-author Adnan Qureshi, professor of neurology, said many of the survivors of COVID have lingering symptoms that don't allow them to resume their normal lives.
"The number of survivors continues increasing," Qureshi said. "Obviously the healthcare system has to adapt"
Pinpointing the symptoms that are specific to a COVID diagnosis will help, he said.
The seven symptoms don't surprise the researchers.
"They are not surprising to us," Shyu said. "What surprised us is there are seven instead of 20. That's the surprising part."
They don't discount health concerns others have, they said.
"People with other viral respiratory infections suffer from other symptoms," Shyu said. "It's really the purpose of this study to find out what is specific to long COVID"
Because of the large number of COVID survivors, disability and lack of productivity are increasing, Qureshi said.
"It's causing a large burden," he said. "Society needs to gear up."
The research won't end here, but must be ongoing, Shyu said.
Other co-authors were Jane Armer and William Baskett at MU and Daniel Shyu at the University of Minnesota. The study received funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Roger Mckinney is the Tribune's education reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter @rmckinney9.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: The 7 symptoms MU researchers connected with long COVID using data