By Denise Baez
Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can persist and result in prolonged illness, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Our study shows persistence of symptoms in a third of ambulatory patients 30 to 45 days after diagnosis even if we assume that those lost to follow-up were all asymptomatic,” wrote Mayssam Nehme, MD, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues. “Fatigue, dyspnoea, and loss of taste or smell were the main persistent symptoms. These results are in line with a recent study that reported the persistence of symptoms 14 to 21 days after diagnosis.”
The researchers followed 669 people who tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) between March 18, 2020, and May 15, 2020, but did not require hospitalisation.
Of the patients, 60% were female, 24.6% were healthcare professionals, and 68.8% did not have underlying risk factors; mean age was 42.8 years.
At 6 weeks from diagnosis, nearly a third of participants still had ≥1 symptoms related to COVID-19, mainly fatigue (14%), shortness of breath (9%), and loss of taste or smell (12%). In addition, 6% reported a persistent cough and 3% reported headaches.
“In conclusion, this study shows that patients with COVID-19 develop an array of symptoms that evolve over time,” the authors wrote. “Recognising the persistence of symptoms could legitimise patients’ concerns in an unknown and new disease. Adequate communication can provide reassurance, reduce anxiety, and potentially optimise recovery.”
The authors noted several limitations to their study, including missing data and ascertainment bias at each assessment interval.