If You’re Over 65, You're at Higher Risk for This COVID Complication

Kali Coleman
·3 min read

It's widely known that risk factors for the coronavirus increase with age. Your likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization, and death all go up significantly once you reach a certain age bracket. Unfortunately, those may not be the only issues you face at an advanced age. In fact, new research indicates that if you're over 65, you may be at higher risk for another concerning COVID complication. Keep reading to find out what you should be looking out for, and for more coronavirus guidance, If You're Over 65, You Could Be Missing This COVID Symptom, Study Says.

You're more likely to have long-term COVID symptoms if you're over 65.

A study published Feb. 19 in JAMA Network Open used data from 177 coronavirus patients between three to nine months after their illness onset to research long-term symptoms. Out of these patients, 43.3 percent of those over the age of 65 reported having persistent COVID symptoms following their illness. In comparison, only 26.6 percent of those 18 to 39 reported long-term issues and only 30.1 percent of those 40 to 64 reported the same. As Gary Weinstein, MD, pulmonologist and critical care medicine specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, told Healthline, people 65 years and older are at highest risk for long-term complications from a COVID infection. And for more guidance for older adults, If You're Over 65, the CDC Says Not to Do This Before Your Vaccine.

The most common long-term symptoms were fatigue and loss of smell or taste.

Of the 55 study patients who reported persistent symptoms, 13.6 percent reported having fatigue and loss of smell or taste—making these the two most common long-term symptoms, according to the study. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also pinpoints other commonly reported long-term symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain. Other reported persistent symptoms include difficulty with thinking and concentration, depression, muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever, and heart palpitations. And for more on long forms of the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci Says These Are the COVID Symptoms That Don't Go Away.

But those over 65 may also be more likely to have long-term lung issues.

The CDC says that more serious long-term complications could also arise in patients experiencing persistent symptoms, including lung function abnormalities. According to John Hopkins, this is likely to be seen in those who experience a severe coronavirus complication known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a type of lung failure. While this can be fatal, the COVID patients who survive this "may have lasting pulmonary scarring" on their lungs, which makes it harder for this organ to function. A March 2020 study from Wuhan, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that those 65 and older had more than three times the risk of developing ARDS from the coronavirus. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You may also be more likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

The coronavirus "is a complex illness that might require ongoing clinical care, even after being discharged from the hospital," the CDC says. So long-term coronavirus symptoms may not just be irritating—they could also land you back in the hospital. A Nov. 9 report from the CDC found that 9 percent of COVID patients were readmitted to the same hospital within two months of discharge from their initial coronavirus hospitalization. And who is most at risk for readmission? According to the agency, patients aged 65 and older. And for more news on serious coronavirus cases, If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From Severe COVID.