People who are otherwise healthy may not be hospitalized after contracting the virus, but they may still feel the effects of its symptoms long after infection. And now, a new study has found that the flu can have the same effect in the long run.
In both cases (Covid-19 and the flu), many people feel better within a few days or weeks, and most will fully recover within 12 weeks.But for some people, symptoms can last longer.
The chances of developing long-term symptoms do not seem to correlate with how sick you are when you first catch COVID-19, which is the same with influenza.
The Oxford University research analyzed the health records of people diagnosed with influenza and “Covid-19”, especially in the United States.
The two groups, which include just over 100,000 patients, include people seeking health care for symptoms three to six months after infection.
These problems included: fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and problems with memory and concentration – known as ‘brain fog’.
And there were signs that Covid-19 patients were more likely to have long-term symptoms – 42% had at least one symptom compared to 30% in the flu group.
Both groups included some people who are considered to be at risk – and who are likely to be completely sick with the virus – so rates of persistent disease should not be seen as representative of the general population.
However, the study, which was published in the journal PLOS Medicine, concluded that both viruses can cause long-term problems that take time to resolve.
Lead researcher Professor Paul Harrison said: ‘Many of us who have had the flu know how you don’t always feel completely better as quickly as you hoped or expected.
The higher rate in the Covid-19 group could be affected by the fact that people may be more likely to seek care for long-term symptoms or the way symptoms are recorded.
Overall, the team revealed that it is likely that persistent symptoms are more common for “Covid-19” than the flu. The search was studied only for indication of long-term symptoms.
The restrictions indicated that it was not known how long those seeking help experienced symptoms, with the research paper noting that it could have been days or weeks.
Nor was the severity of symptoms recorded, only whether patients had any long-term effects.
The team acknowledged the need for more research into the “long-term Covid” issue, but said the study also drew attention to how little is known about persistent ill health caused by influenza.
“It is possible that the long-term symptoms of influenza have been overlooked before,” said Dr Max Takee, who was part of the research team.
This comes at a time when another study from Oxford University revealed that more than a third of “Covid-19” patients were diagnosed with at least prolonged symptoms of “Covid”.
This new study investigated “long-term COVID-19” screening in more than 270,000 people recovering from the virus, using data from the US-based TriNetX electronic health record network.
This study does not explain the reasons for the emergence of symptoms of “long-term Covid”, nor how severe they are, nor how long they will last.
Dr Max Tackett, an academic clinical fellow at the National Institute of Human Rights, who led the analyzes, said: “The results confirm that a large proportion of people, of all ages, can be affected by a range of symptoms and difficulties in the six months following infection with Covid-19.” “This data complements findings from self-report surveys, and shows that clinicians diagnose patients with these symptoms. We need services that are appropriately tailored to address current and future clinical needs.”