Study finds fatigue is more common in mild COVID cases

mild covid cases, fatigue
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Scientists have found that neurological symptoms, like fatigue, are more common in people with mild COVID cases – as opposed to only in severe COVID cases

A researcher at University College London (UCL) has found that neurological symptoms like fatigue and depression are common in people with mild COVID cases, as well as those with more severe cases of the virus.

‘More common in mild cases’ says lead author

Lead author Dr Jonathan Rogers, UCL Psychiatry and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “We had expected that neurological and psychiatric symptoms would be more common in severe Covid-19 cases, but instead we found that some symptoms appeared to be more common in mild cases. It appears that Covid-19 affecting mental health and the brain is the norm, rather than the exception.

“Many factors could contribute to neurological and psychiatric symptoms in the early stages of infection with Covid-19, including inflammation, impaired oxygen delivery to the brain, and psychological factors. More studies are needed to understand these links better.”

What were the most common neurological symptoms?

The team conducted a review of 105,638 people with recorded COVID case effects. This data is from the onset of the pandemic, until July 2020.

In this order:

  1. Anosmia (loss of smell; reported by 43% of patients with Covid-19);
  2. Weakness (40%), fatigue (38%);
  3. Dysgeusia (loss of taste; 37%);
  4. Myalgia (muscle pain; 25%);
  5. Depression (23%);
  6. Headache (21%);
  7. And anxiety (16%).

They also identified the presence of major neurological disorders such as ischaemic stroke (1.9% of cases in the dataset), haemorrhagic stroke (0.4%) and seizure (0.06%). Patients with severe Covid-19 were overrepresented in the dataset as a whole, as most of the studies focused on hospitalised patients. Even the studies of people outside of hospital included few people with very mild or no symptoms.

But with those who didn’t go to hospital – 55% reported fatigue, 52% loss of smell, 47% muscle pain, 45% loss of taste, and 44% reported headaches.

‘Mental health services’ should be increased

Joint senior author Dr Alasdair Rooney at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Neurological and psychiatric symptoms are very common in people with Covid-19. With millions of people infected globally even the rarer symptoms could affect substantially more people than in usual times.

“Mental health services and neurological rehabilitation services should be resourced for an increase in referrals.”

Read the full study here.


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