Hair loss, low libido among long COVID-19 symptoms, study finds

The list of long COVID-19 symptoms may be much longer than the 20 included in the World Health Organization's clinical case definition of the condition, according to a study published July 25 in Nature Medicine

A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham in the U.K. and clinicians across England used EHR primary care records to identify lingering symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. The analysis — based on data collected from January 2020 to April 2021 — included more than 486,000 adults with a confirmed COVID-19 infection who were not hospitalized, and a matched cohort of 1.9 million adults with no confirmed infection. 

Findings showed those with a history of COVID-19 were significantly more likely to report 62 symptoms 12 weeks after acute infection, compared to those with no prior infection. These included some of the more recognized symptoms tied to long COVID-19, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of sense of smell. Other commonly reported symptoms that were more surprising to researchers included lower libido, hair loss, bowel incontinence and limb swelling. 

"This research validates what patients have been telling clinicians and policymakers throughout the pandemic, that the symptoms of long COVID are extremely broad and cannot be fully accounted for by other lifestyle risk factors or chronic health conditions," said Shamil Haroon, PhD, senior study author and associate clinical professor at the University of Birmingham. 

The findings also suggested that women, younger people and ethnic and racial minorities have a greater risk of developing long COVID-19. 

Click here to view the full findings


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