October 1, 2022
Most COVID-19 'long haulers' continue to experience symptoms 15 months after initial infection

Most non-hospitalized COVID-19 “long-haulers” at the Northwestern Medicine Neuro COVID-19 Clinic continued to experience symptoms such as brain fog, numbness and tingling, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and fatigue an average of 15 months after disease onset, according to a new study published in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Scientists analyzed patients six to nine months after their initial visit to the Neuro COVID-19 Clinic and discovered heart rate, blood pressure variation and gastrointestinal symptoms increased in so-called long-haulers, while loss of taste and smell decreased overall.

“This new study is novel and reports the longest follow-up period of neurologic symptoms impacting non-hospitalized patients suffering from long-COVID anywhere in the world,” said Igor Koralnik, MD, chief of Neuro-infectious Diseases and Global Neurology in the Department of Neurology, who oversees the Neuro COVID-19 Clinic. “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.”

Scientists studied patients evaluated initially between May and November 2020 who had mild initial COVID-19 symptoms—transient cough, sore throat, etc.—and were never required to be hospitalized for pneumonia or low oxygen levels.

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