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, 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.”
The findings were published online Feb. 19 in JAMA Network Open.
The Cleveland Clinic has more on coronavirus long haulers.
SOURCES: Jennifer Logue, BS, research scientist, division of allergy and infectious diseases, department of medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; Kristin Englund, MD, infectious disease specialist, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; David Hirschwerk, MD, attending infectious disease doctor, Northwell Health, Manhasset, N.Y.; Thomas Gut, DO, associate chair, medicine, and director, ambulatory care services, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City; Ravindra Ganesh, MBBS, MD, internist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; JAMA Network Open, Feb. 19, 2021, online