Many COVID-19 long-haulers still have neurological symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and memory problems six months later, new research shows.
Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection.
Common signs and symptoms that make up ‘long covid’ and linger over time include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Memory, concentration or sleep problems
Muscle pain or headache
Fast or pounding heartbeat
Loss of smell or taste
Depression or anxiety
Dizziness when you stand
Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities
The findings are the first from an ongoing study of long-haulers by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Long-haulers simply means people experiencing ‘long covid’.
“It’s encouraging that most people were showing some improvement at six months, but that wasn’t the case for everyone,” said senior study author Dr. Jennifer Graves, an associate professor of medicine and a neurologist at UC San Diego Health.
“Some of these participants are high-level professionals who we’d expect to score above average on cognitive assessments, but months after having COVID-19, they’re still scoring abnormally,”
Graves added in a university news release.
The study included 56 people who developed neurological symptoms after mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection. They entered the study between October 2020 and October 2021.
The participants were assessed a few months after their infection, and again three and six months later.
At the first assessment, 89% had fatigue and 80% had headaches. Other common symptoms included memory impairment, insomnia and reduced concentration.
Eight in 10 said their neurological symptoms affected their quality of life.
At six months, only one-third of participants said they no longer had any neurological symptoms.
In the rest, most symptoms were less severe, and the most common symptoms were memory impairment and reduced concentration.
None of the participants with symptoms at six months had any history of neurological conditions before getting COVID, according to the authors of the study published online June 15 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
There’s more on long COVID conditions at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, June 15, 2022