“People could be suffering from long COVID and not knowing it because they have not gotten the knowledge to identify themselves as having it,” Fidaa Shaib, a pulmonologist at Baylor College of Medicine’s long COVID clinic, told Insider.
Long COVID presents with a huge variety of symptoms, Shaib added, which makes it difficult for doctors to spot.
That is, in part, why estimates of how common long COVID is vary widely. A large UK study found that about one in 10 COVID-19 survivors will develop long COVID – defined as experiencing lingering symptoms for more than three weeks after being infected. A University of Washington estimate, meanwhile, put the figure at closer to one in three COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an epidemiologist and chief of research at a Veterans Affairs teaching hospital in St. Louis, told Insider that the syndrome “can affect nearly every organ in the body.”
It is not yet clear if the symptoms of long COVID are caused directly by the virus, or if some are triggered by the stress and trauma of infection and the pandemic. Regardless, people urgently need help managing their symptoms, Shaib said, especially those associated with chronic illness.
Here are 12 ways patients can be affected by long COVID.
One in five long-haulers experienced brain fog six months after having COVID-19, according to an analysis of 51 long COVID studies that has not yet been peer-reviewed. This was the case regardless of whether the patients had been hospitalized or not.
Gut symptoms, such as loss of appetite and diarrhea
A small study from China found that more than 40 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 reported issues related to the gut three months after their primary infection. The most common symptoms were loss of appetite, nausea, acid reflux, and diarrhea.
Skin rashes and hair loss
COVID-16 survivors reported skin rashes six months among after infection, according to the study of US veterans.