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As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's an increasing amount of attention on how to manage the aftermath of the virus, with more and more survivors experiencing what's become known as "long COVID." These are patients whose symptoms persist long after the infection has left their system, but is still wreaking havoc on their health. The topic of long COVID came up this week when Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House's chief COVID adviser, spoke with the Duke Global Health Institute on Feb. 10. "We do know that there's an unusual syndrome called post-acute COVID syndrome, or PACS," Fauci explained to David Rubenstein, former chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees. "We are studying this intensively with cohort studies because a certain percentage of people who have symptomatic diseases, whether they've been hospitalized or not, have lingering symptoms for variable periods of time."
According to Fauci, certain symptoms can still be an issue "after the virus has cleared from the body. So they're no longer infected but they have a constellation of signs and symptoms that are pretty consistent." Read on to find out what Fauci identified as the key symptoms of post-COVID syndrome, and for more signs you could be sick now, check out If You're Over 65, You Could Be Missing This COVID Symptom, Study Says.
Fauci listed extreme fatigue as the first of the most common long COVID symptoms. In a survey by Survivor Corps—a Facebook group of COVID-19 survivors—led by Natalie Lambert, MD, associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, researchers talked to more than 1,500 long haulers about their symptoms to determine the 98 most common ones. According to their findings, 100 percent of those surveyed reported feeling fatigue. And for more on your long-hauler risk, check out If You're Lacking This One Thing, You're at Greater Risk of Long COVID.
Fauci also described muscular aches and pains as a common symptom that can persist, which aligns with what was reported in the Survivor Corps survey. Muscle pain was the second most common effect long haulers reported with nearly 67 percent experiencing the symptom. And for more on where you can expect aches, see why Ellen DeGeneres Says This Is the "One Thing They Don't Tell You" About COVID.
Disrupted sleep is also a common symptom of PACS, Fauci said. According to the Survivor Corp survey, 50 percent of long haulers have trouble getting shut eye. And for more strange and scary ways COVID can affect you, check out The Terrifying Long COVID Symptom Doctors Are Now Warning About.
Fauci said that PACS patients were also commonly suffering from issues "where they feel chilly or that they're not regulating their temperature properly." While this wasn't a symptom tracked by the Survivors Corp survey, 29 percent of patients did say they experienced fever or chills long after "recovering" from the virus. And for more COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The last on Fauci's list of long COVID symptoms is one of the most troubling and mysterious: brain fog, "which means they have a difficulty in focusing or concentrating," he explained. Among those long haulers surveyed in the Survivors Corp report, 59 percent said they experienced difficulty concentrating. And for more on factors that affect people with PACS, check out Nearly All COVID Long Haulers Have This in Common, New Study Finds.