Breathing Difficulty Still Common in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients After 6 Months

New survey results depict unexpected burdens in long-haul patients, as well as continued issues following rehabilitation.

A survey of patients previously hospitalized for COVID-19 showed a majority were still suffering from symptoms including fatigue and changes to livelihood due to affected breathing, 6 months after their discharge.

The data, presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2021 Virtual Sessions this week, depict a small-scale perspective of necessary follow-up care for habitual symptoms that more affected COVID-19 patients may face.

The research conducted by a team of Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences investigators also show fluctuation in the prevalence of respiratory COVID-19 symptoms well beyond the presumed recovery phase of a patient.

Led by Ben Rossavik, DO, of the Department of Pediatrics, investigators conducted a six-month discharge survey of patients treated for RT-PCR-confirmed COVID-19 at a local tertiary center from March - August 2020.

In an accumulation of 42 patient responses, Rossavik and colleagues observed significant prevalence of fatigue (52.4%), changes in daily activities due to breathing (52.4%), shortness of breath (47.6%), change in taste and smell (42.9%) and increased much production (38.1%).

More than one-fourth of all surveyed patients reported continued issues with rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, and cough, as well.

In an interview with HPCLive regarding the findings, Rossavik discussed some of the more surprising symptoms being reported by patients a half-year following their COVID-19 discharge—including multiple instances of hair loss.

Rossavik also shared perspectives collected from survey respondents, including frequent failures of memory on their COVID-19 treatment in the hospital, and experiences in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

“A lot of times, the way our model is run, people go there for a period of time, then they’re done and they go home,” Rossavik said. “But then they still complain about this inability to just walk around their house.”

The concept of COVID-19 “long-haulers” needing even bettered follow-up care and comprehensive rehabilitative services is evidenced by such feedback.

The study, “A Survey of Respiratory Symptoms Reported in Patients Following Hospitalization with COVID-19 Infection,” was presented at AAAAI 2021.

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