Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Over half the people who get COVID have lingering symptoms after 3 years, new study finds

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For over half the people who recover from COVID-19, some symptoms linger for as long as three years, according to a new study published this week in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 

Among 1,359 COVID patients in China, 54% of them still had at least one symptom three years after contracting the virus, a press release said.

Most of the symptoms were mild to moderate in severity.

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Researchers from China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing also found that the patients who had long COVID had a higher risk of getting pneumonia or repeat cases of COVID with the omicron variant.

Among the people with long COVID who became reinfected with omicron, researchers found that 62% experienced newly occurring or worse symptoms, compared to 41% of those who did not have long COVID.

Despite the presence of lingering symptoms, the long COVID patients were not found to have worse lung function compared to those who did not have an infection.

“Although the organ function of survivors of COVID-19 recovered over time, those with severe long COVID symptoms, abnormal organ function or limited mobility require urgent attention in future clinical practice and research,” the study authors wrote.

The patients, who were released from the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May 2020, were evaluated at six-month, one-year and two-year intervals after testing positive for COVID.

The three-year assessments were based on in-person questionnaires, a six-minute walking test and lab tests.

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Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was not involved in the study but shared his reaction to the findings.

“This was a large study of over 1,000 patients, with careful follow-up,” Siegel told Fox News Digital.

“Most patients with severe COVID showed significant organ recovery, but over half of them showed persistent symptoms.”

Getting vaccines and boosters decreases the risk of persistent symptoms, the doctor added. 

“This study shows the huge problem of long-term symptoms of COVID persisting, but also underlines the need for a clearer definition of long COVID,” Siegel noted.

Fox News Digital reached out to the study authors for comment.

Long COVID is a condition in which symptoms remain for weeks, months or even years after an infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines long COVID as “the continuation or development of new symptoms three months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least two months with no other explanation.”

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In some people, the symptoms appear during the initial illness and never go away. 

In others, the symptoms may come and go, according to the Yale Medicine website.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe or debilitating.

Some studies have shown that long COVID occurs in 5% to 30% of people who have had the virus.

In a March 2023 study led by Intermountain Health, a nonprofit health care system based in Salt Lake City, Utah, people who previously had COVID experienced higher amounts of chest pain six months to a year after getting the virus compared to those who did not have the virus.

Other common long COVID symptoms include brain fog, joint pain and extreme fatigue, according to Dr. Norman B. Gaylis, who has treated over 1,000 patients at his Long Haul COVID Clinic in Aventura, Florida.

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“It has been established in the medical community that COVID causes inflammation that can lead to heart damage and cause any number of conditions such as myocarditis, pericarditis, arrhythmia, blood clots and even heart failure,” Dr. Gaylis told Fox News Digital at the time.

Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the chances of developing long COVID, another study showed early this year.

“If you get COVID and you’re already living a healthier lifestyle — if you’re more fit, eating better, exercising regularly, sleeping better and you’ve reduced your stress with things like meditation or yoga — you’ll be much more likely to come out on the other side with fewer long-term consequences,” Dr. Christian Sandrock, who specializes in emerging infectious diseases at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, told Fox News Digital.

People who have cardiac and metabolic conditions — including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure — have a greater risk of getting long COVID, according to Sandrock.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health.

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