Most Neurologic Symptoms Persist for COVID-19 Long Haulers

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Most COVID-19-associated neurologic symptoms persist at 11 to 18 months after disease onset, according to a study published online.

HealthDay News — Most COVID-19-associated neurologic symptoms persist at 11 to 18 months after disease onset, according to a study published online May 24 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Sareen T. Ali, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues characterized the evolution of neurologic symptoms and self-perceived recovery of nonhospitalized COVID-19 long haulers at six to nine months following their initial clinic evaluation. The follow-up study was completed by 52 patients at a median 14.8 months after symptom onset: 27 laboratory-positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and 25 laboratory-negative for SARS-CoV-2 who were evaluated at a Neuro-COVID-19 clinic between May and November 2020. Seventy-seven percent were vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers found that the frequency of most neurologic symptoms did not differ significantly between the first and follow-up evaluations, including brain fog (81 versus 71 percent), numbness and tingling (69 versus 65 percent), headache (67 versus 54 percent), dizziness (50 versus 54 percent), blurred vision (34 versus 44 percent), tinnitus (33 versus 42 percent), and fatigue (87 versus 81 percent). There were decreases in dysgeusia (63 versus 27 percent) and anosmia (58 versus 21 percent). At follow-up, there were increases observed in heart rate and blood pressure variation (35 versus 56 percent) and gastrointestinal symptoms (27 versus 48 percent). Improvements in recovery, cognitive function, and fatigue were reported, but quality-of-life measures remained lower than the normative population. SARS-CoV-2 vaccination had no positive or negative impact on cognitive function or fatigue.

“We were surprised by the persistence of most of the debilitating neurologic symptoms of our patients, and by the late appearance of symptoms that suggest dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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