Study Narrows Down Long COVID Symptoms To Just 7

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Long COVID, the medical mystery that continues to boggle the minds of scientists and medical researchers, comes with an extensive list of symptoms. But a new study narrowed down the 47 reported symptoms to just seven. 

Published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Disease, the study by the University of Missouri researchers suggested that long COVID sufferers are susceptible to developing only seven health symptoms, fewer than the previously reported common symptoms of the condition. 

According to the team, a better understanding of the long-term effects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection was needed amid the ongoing pandemic. So they analyzed a large and diverse patient cohort to shorten the list of symptoms related to long COVID. 

After examining data from 17,487 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in 112 healthcare facilities in the U.S. before April 14, 2022, the researchers picked up 47 of the most commonly reported health issues of the patients. They then examined for any comparisons on the reported symptoms. 

After looking into their data, the team listed the following as the seven most common symptoms of long COVID: palpitations, fatigue, hair loss, joint pain, chest pain, dyspnea and obesity. 

“Despite an overwhelming number of long COVID symptoms previously reported by other studies, we only found a few symptoms specifically related to an infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Before we examined the data, I thought we would find an ample amount of the symptoms to be specifically associated with long COVID, but that wasn’t the case,” corresponding author Chi-Ren Shyu, the director of the MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics, said in a news release

“Now, researchers will be able to better understand how SARS-CoV-2 may mutate or evolve by creating new connections that we may not have known about before. Going forward we can use electronic medical records to quickly detect subgroups of patients who may have these long-term health conditions,” Shyu added. 

The researchers hope their findings could help healthcare providers with what they should ask and look for when attending to patients who seemingly have developed long COVID. They also said the results could serve as a basis for future research on the lingering condition. 

Earlier this month, a different study published in the BMJ sparked hope for long COVID sufferers after discovering that most long COVID symptoms that develop after a mild infection and linger for several months eventually go away within a year. 

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