As our world began to revolve around the COVID-19 virus, the first question asked always seems to be “What are your symptoms?”
Mentally checking off a list of symptoms, even as they changed slightly with each emerging COVID variant, became how even non-clinical people would generally gauge their body’s reaction if they had been exposed to the virus or determine if someone else might be infected or battling a different illness.
New research is now zeroing in on the symptoms of COVID and asserting that they might indicate who will experience long COVID, a condition in which symptoms like fatigue and achiness linger or even emerge after the virus’ active infection has passed.
British researchers have developed a questionnaire they believe will better define long COVID, which affects an estimated 30 percent of survivors to varying degrees. However, Ulysses Wu, MD, medical director of infectious disease at Hartford HealthCare, remains skeptical.
“A lot needs to be done in the research of long COVID,” he noted. “But, surveys generally don’t contribute to established research as there is a lot of bias when people are answering. That said, any data is helpful.”
The new research, published in the British Medical Journal, included development of a “patient-reported outcome measure” that can be completed either by people who have had COVID or through an interview. From the completed surveys, the researchers have identified a list of common long COVID symptoms. They maintain that this list, which narrows the field of symptoms to only a handful, will make it easier to diagnose and manage the condition in others.
“I don’t think, at this time, there’s any validity to examining and categorizing symptoms,” Dr. Wu said. He added that a better focal point is the fact that people who are vaccinated seem less likely to develop long COVID.