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Study sheds more light on lingering symptoms of COVID-19

Two-thirds of the 150 patients involved in the study still had symptoms 1-2 months after disease onset.

Potential long-lasting effects after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has been much-discussed in recent months, but a new study sheds more light on the lingering symptoms that some patients have experienced. 

This study was conducted by Clinical Microbiology and Infection and followed up with 150 patients who had "non-critical" COVID-19, meaning they survived and were not admitted to an ICU.

The results found that two-thirds of the patients, all of whom were over the age of 18 – a median age of 49 – experienced symptoms 30 days, or even as long as 60 days after symptom onset. 

It concluded that "more than one-third felt still sick or in a worse clinical condition" at day 60 than at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

These prolonged symptoms were most commonly seen in patients aged 40-60, who had been hospitalized (but not in the ICU) at the onset of COVID-19, and who had experienced breathing problems.

According to the World Health Organization, the median time from illness onset to recovery is about two weeks for mild cases and 3-6 weeks for severe or critical illness. 

Symptoms the patients in the study continued exhibiting 30-60 days after disease onset mainly included anosmia/ageusia (loss of smell/taste), dyspnea (difficulty breathing) or asthenia (fatigue).  

The lingering symptoms were more commonly found in patients with comorbidities, including obesity, chronic respiratory disease, dialysis, heart failure or a previous cardiovascular event, liver cirrhosis, insulin-dependent diabetes, immunosuppression and pregnancy.

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Most children and adults who have coronavirus recover fully within a few weeks, the Mayo Clinic says.

But while the study found lingering symptoms were more common in patients who were admitted to a hospital at symptom onset, the Mayo notes that some people, even those who had mild cases, can experience symptoms for months after initially recovering from the virus.

Those symptoms include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, joint pain, organ damage and blood clots.

The Minnesota Department of Health and other health experts are still studying the long-term effects of the virus to learn how it will impact people over time. This is why health officials stress the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home when you're sick.

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