COVID-19: Fatigue, headaches, chest pain persist in survivors after discharge — Experts

Experts say that three symptoms that linger in COVID-19 survivors after treatment from the Lagos State COVID-19 isolation and treatment facilities weeks after discharge were fatigue, headaches and chest pain.

The findings add to growing evidence and discussion of so-called COVID-19 “long-haulers,” or patients that experienced symptoms that may linger for up to six months after their initial recovery.

The researchers found that about four out of ten survivors remained symptomatic for at least two weeks after discharge and with the majority of them experiencing fatigue, headache, chest pain and insomnia. It was in the March edition of BMC Infectious Diseases.

The study, which followed up 219 patients at a COVID-19 outpatient clinic between April and June 2020, indicated that the most persistent COVID-like symptoms experienced were fatigue (12.8 per cent), headaches (12.8 per cent), and chest pain (9.8 per cent).

In addition, more than one-third (40.9 per cent) had persistent COVID-19 symptoms after discharge, and 19.7 per cent had more than three persistent COVID-like symptoms. Neurologic symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, and attention deficits were identified in 39.1 per cent of the COVID-19 survivors reviewed.

The researchers carried out thorough clinical history and physical assessment of all patients at the outpatient clinic. Information was obtained on the presence or absence of COVID-19 symptoms, general symptoms, and the nature of symptoms if any. They also ruled out potential confounding comorbidities or concurrent infections.

Over half (59.1 per cent) of the study population had no persistent COVID-19 symptoms. Among respondents with persistent symptoms, a majority (48.2 per cent) had three or more persistent COVID-like symptoms. Of all cases reviewed, the most common symptoms were easy fatigability (12.8 per cent), headache (12.8 per cent), chest pain (9.8 per cent), and insomnia (9.8 per cent).

The researchers, suggesting the persistence of COVID-19 symptoms of varying patterns among some survivors, said symptomatic COVID-19 disease with moderate severity compared to mild severity was a predictor of persistent COVID-like symptoms after discharge.

In addition, there was no association between age, sex, a history of hypertension, diabetes or multiple comorbidities with the presence of persistent COVID-19 like symptoms among symptomatic COVID-19 cases.

According to them, “findings from this study suggest that patients who recovered from COVID-19 disease may still experience COVID-19 like symptoms, particularly fatigue and headaches. Therefore, careful monitoring should be in place after discharge to help mitigate the effects of these symptoms and improve the quality of life of COVID-19 survivors.”

The most common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint pain and chest pain, brain fog, loss of taste and/or smell as well as sleep issues. Less common symptoms include sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, and a skin rash or discolouration of fingers or toes.


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