Long Covid patients are susceptible to developing only seven health symptoms for up to a year following the infection, a new study has revealed.
These seven symptoms are fast-beating heart, hair loss, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, joint pain and obesity, according to a team of University of Missouri (MU) researchers in the US who made this unexpected discovery and published it in the Open Forum Infectious Diseases journal.
"Despite an overwhelming number of long Covid symptoms previously reported by other studies, we only found a few symptoms specifically related to an infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19," said Chi-Ren Shyu, director of the MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics and the corresponding author of the study.
To develop their findings, the team reviewed real-world data from electronic medical records containing de-identified information for medical research purposes.
After examining data from a total of 52,461 patients at 122 healthcare facilities across the US, the researchers selected the top 47 most commonly reported health symptoms from long Covid to examine for this study.
Then, the researchers looked for any comparisons in the reported health symptoms -- many also shared by other viral respiratory infections -- among people in three different subgroups.
These subgroups included people diagnosed with Covid but do not have any common viral respiratory infections like influenza or pneumonia; People with common viral respiratory infections but do not have Covid and people who do not have Covid or any other common viral respiratory infections.
Shyu said the results could benefit ongoing efforts by fellow researchers to study various impacts of Covid.
"Now, researchers will be able to better understand how SARS-CoV-2 may mutate or evolve by creating new connections that we may not have known about before," said Shyu.
"Going forward we can use electronic medical records to quickly detect subgroups of patients who may have these long-term health conditions," the researcher noted.