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Long COVID has over 100 identified symptoms (1,2), of which many are measurable impairments that can’t be explained by the stress of the current pandemic (3). Long COVID is definitely not an imaginary disease.

The most common symptoms reported and their potential explanation are:

  • Fatigue (2,4,5,6,7,8,9) can be explained by the low oxygen levels measured in long COVID patients. Which can put a huge strain on the body’s metabolism (3). 😪
  • Cognitive impairment (e.g. attention, memory, thinking, or concentrating disorders) (2,4,5,6,7,8,9) can be explained by inflammation and lower blood flow in the brain but also processes that are similar to the one we see with cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disease (3). 🧠
  • Shortness of Breath (4,5,6,7,9) seems to be caused by a lower lung efficiency at extracting oxygen from the air, even when the patient’s lung structure appears to be intact (3). 😮‍💨
  • Headache (4,5,9), general pain and discomfort (5,6), and mental health symptoms (5,6,8,9) were also common symptoms reported in long COVID patients.

Understanding the mechanisms surrounding long COVID is important because:

  • Cases are in the millions even when estimates of who is impacted vary between 10 and 80% (4,8,10,11)
  • Anyone with a SARS-CoV-2 infection can develop long COVID, even asymptomatic individuals → 30-40% did not require hospitalization following their initial infection (5)
  • 9% of long COVID’s patients are still unable to work after 3 months (12)
  • It can help guide treatment (3).

The good news is that vaccination reduces the risk of long COVID and the more doses you have, the better your chances of not developing it are (7,13,14). All the more reason to get your fall booster!



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