We explore the most common symptoms reported by individuals with long COVID and how these symptoms impact their day-to-day activities.
L ong COVID refers to the ongoing symptoms experienced by individuals even after recovering from the acute phase of COVID-19. These symptoms can persist for weeks or even months, causing physical and mental challenges.
Let’s delve into the most prevalent symptoms associated with long COVID and how they affect daily life.
Symptoms and Impact of Long COVID
According to the latest ONS survey on Self-Reported Long COVID symptoms, of those who self-reported long COVID, 60% experienced weakness or tiredness, followed by 48% reporting shortness of breath, 42% reporting muscle ache, 37% reporting difficulty concentrating, and 34% reporting joint pain.
For individuals whose day-to-day activities were significantly affected by long COVID, weakness or tiredness were the most commonly reported symptoms. Among those whose activities were “limited a lot,” 88% experienced weakness or tiredness, followed by 73% reporting shortness of breath, 70% reporting muscle ache, 66% reporting difficulty concentrating, and 61% reporting joint pain.
The number of symptoms reported varied among individuals. The median number of symptoms reported by those with long COVID was 6 out of a total of 34 possible symptoms. However, those whose ability to carry out daily activities was greatly reduced reported a median number of 12 symptoms. In comparison, those with a minor reduction reported a median of 6 symptoms. Individuals whose symptoms did not affect their activity levels reported a median of only two symptoms.
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The Impact of Exertion on Symptoms
A majority of individuals (55%) reported a worsening of symptoms after either mental or physical effort, or both. On the other hand, 30% did not experience worsening symptoms, while 15% were uncertain about the impact of exertion on their symptoms.
Long COVID symptoms can limit a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities, affecting their overall quality of life.
By shedding light on the experiences of individuals with long COVID, we can raise awareness and understanding of this condition, and offer support and resources to those affected, as they continue to navigate the challenges it presents.
▪ Text: This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 10 July 2023.
▪ Cover: Unsplash/Kristina Tripkovic. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)