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Nearly 8.3 million Americans could be suffering from post-COVID symptoms – study suggests

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Researchers from the University of Washington studied how patients experienced COVID-19 symptoms such as loss of smell and taste even after six months of their recovery from the coronavirus infection.

The coronavirus disease is not an affair that’ll last until recovery. Few symptoms might follow you for a long time even after recovering! 

A new study published in JAMA Network Open has brought to our notice how millions of Americans might be having symptoms of COVID-19, even after months of recovery.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle, who carried out the study found that ‘long-haul COVID’ can be experienced not just by the hospitalized patients, but also by those who are having very mild symptoms of COVID-19.

For the study, 234 patients were surveyed. Out of these 177 patients had recovered from the coronavirus infection, and 21 were healthy control patients.

The participants who had COVID were contacted between August and September 2020. They were given a single follow-up questionnaire to fill between three to nine months after experiencing the symptom(s) for the first time. 84.7% of the participants who had COVID recorded mild symptoms, while 6.2% did not experience any symptoms. 9% of the participants showing mild to severe illness required hospitalization.

On the whole, at least one symptom was persistently experienced by 30% of the patients. This is equivalent to 8.3 million people experiencing such persistent symptoms out of 27.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Fatigue, loss of smell, and taste turned out to be the most commonly experienced symptoms (long-haul) and was reported by 13.6% of patients. The participants also said that they experienced the symptoms for a duration of six months or more, post-recovery.

Over 30% of patients complained of a deteriorated quality of life. 7.9% of patients admitted that the symptoms affected their routine activities.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology had suggested the CDC in March to add anosmia (lack of smell and taste) to the list of symptoms of the coronavirus infection. The World Health Organization(WHO) had also begun examining the symptom around the same time.

Patients who have recovered from the infection still state about being unable to smell or taste. The authors of the study explain: “With [millions of] cases worldwide, even a small incidence of long-term debility could have enormous health and economic consequences.”

They also explained that their study suggested that the consequences of coronavirus infection continue to remain for a long time even in those patients who experienced mild illness.

“Comprehensive long-term investigation will be necessary to fully understand the impact of this evolving viral pathogen,” they added.

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