Tahmina Nasserie, M.P.H., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the frequency and variety of persistent symptoms after COVID-19 infection. Data were included from 45 studies (9,751 total participants) reporting 84 clinical signs or symptoms.
The researchers found that based on 16 studies, most of which included participants who were previously hospitalized, a median of 72.5 percent of individuals experienced one or more persistent symptom. Shortness of breath or dyspnea (26 studies; 36.0 percent), fatigue or exhaustion (25 studies; 40.0 percent), and sleep disorders or insomnia (eight studies; 29.4 percent) were the individual symptoms occurring most often. Wide variations were seen in the design and quality of studies, which affected the implications for interpretation and limited comparability.
“With millions of individuals experiencing COVID-19 infection, persistent symptoms are a burden on individual patients and their families as well as on outpatient care, public health, and the economy,” the authors write. “The designs of studies reported to date preclude making precise risk estimates about many long-term outcomes, particularly by patient or disease characteristic, but they suggest that the problem of persistent symptoms is substantial.”
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