Three months after becoming ill, many COVID-19 patients still have symptoms, two studies confirm, and the more severe the initial infections, the higher the odds of persistent problems.
In Spain, doctors checked back with 108 patients, including 44 who had been severely ill. At 12 weeks after diagnosis, 76% still reported after-effects, with 40% reporting three or more coronavirus-related health issues, doctors said in a paper posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
The most common complaints were shortness of breath, physical weakness, cough, chest pain, palpitations, and psychological and cognitive disorders.
In a similar study of 233 U.S. COVID-19 patients – eight of whom had been severely ill – one in four still had symptoms 90 days after first feeling ill.
Rates were higher for patients who had been sicker: 59.4% at 30 days and 40.6% at 90 days. “But even for very mild and initially asymptomatic cases, 14.3% have complications persist for 30 days or longer,” the authors reported on medRxiv.
In the U.S. study, the most common persistent symptoms were impaired smell and taste, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, memory loss, confusion, headache, heart palpitations, chest pain, pain with deep breaths, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat.