Patients may rightly feel a sense of relief upon “getting over” a virus that has killed more than half a million Americans. That may dissipate as weeks—and months—go on with persistent symptoms that inhibit quality of life and raise the specter of ongoing illness, however. And new data published by JAMA Network now indicate that this problem may be much more widespread than previously understood. Fully three quarters of patients continue to have symptoms 6 months after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Fatigue and muscle weakness were the most common, having been reported by 63% of patients. A quarter said they were struggling with difficulty sleeping or anxiety and depression. Reduced lung function and below-normal results on a 6-minute walking test were also among the symptoms reported. The study reflects the experiences of 1,733 patients who were hospitalized in Wuhan, China and discharged between January and May 2020. Be prepared to reassure patients who present with concerns that they could have been reinfected (or still actively ill with SARS-CoV-2), bearing in mind that a new, negative test may be the best remedy for the emotional aspects.
Be Prepared: Most Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Still Have Symptoms 6 Months Later