About 33% of COVID-19 patients who were never sick enough to require hospitalization continue to complain months later of symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell or taste and “brain fog,” University of Washington (UW) researchers found.
Nearly 31% of patients said they had a worse health-related quality of life now, compared to before getting COVID-19, the researchers reported.
It’s not yet clear why COVID-19 causes these lasting effects.
Many viruses are capable of creating what’s known as “post-viral syndrome,” which experts describe as health problems that persist long after the infection has cleared the body. These are the result of inflammation or other damage that occurs as the immune system fights off an infection.
But there’s evidence that at least some COVID-19 long-haul symptoms might be directly attributable to the coronavirus itself, [physician Thomas] Gut said.
“Because it has a direct effect on the nerves of our nose, we think that likely there is an effect on brain structure. We know that definitively there are changes in our lungs that occur from it,” Gut said of COVID-19. “It has far-reaching implications we’re just now beginning to understand since we’re just starting to categorize the syndrome.”