Even Mild COVID Patients Are Getting Long-Haul Symptoms

Half a year later, some patients are still dealing with fatigue, brain fog, and more.

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Long-haul COVID isn't just for people who had cases severe enough to be hospitalized. A new study published in JAMA Infectious Diseases has found that nearly a third of mild COVID cases still experience symptoms six months later.

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The study from the University of Washington looked at 177 people with confirmed COVID, including 150 people with mild cases, for nine months, and found that 30% reported long-lasting symptoms.

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The most common lasting symptoms were fatigue and loss of smell and taste, but other patients reported brain fog too. And 8% of people said COVID still stopped them doing everyday activities six months later.

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Scientists knew long-haul COVID was a thing, but this is one of the first studies to show that cases of COVID that don't lead to hospitalization can knock you down for months, too.

"We were surprised to have one-third of people with mild illness still experiencing symptoms. If you contract coronavirus, there's a good chance you could experience a lingering effect."

Jennifer Logue, lead researcher, University of Washington Department of Medicine

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A "mild" case of COVID means that people might get fevers, chills, or a cough, but that they can rest at home and recover in around two weeks. It may also mean that they have no symptoms.

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Less severe COVID is really common. One study published in Clinical Epidemiology in September 2020 found that, out of nearly 28,000 positive COVID cases, 86.1% reported no symptoms at all.

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And another study published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society in January found that people could experience COVID symptoms three months after diagnosis, whether their initial case was severe or not.

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A study published in JAMA in July 2020 found that 87% of serious COVID patients still have symptoms six months later, while another published in November found that 52% of all COVID cases, including mild ones, experience lasting fatigue.

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This latest study is a signal that just because somebody's got over the first bout of COVID with just a sniffle — or no symptoms at all — it still might hit them like a ton of bricks in a month.