The researchers analyzed the medical records of 273.6 thousand Americans who confirmed COVID-19, as well as 114 thousand patients who had the flu. In total, scientists have identified nine key symptoms that can last several months after recovering from both viral infections. These are breathing disorders, abdominal pain, anxiety and depression, chest and throat pain, cognitive impairment, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and other types of pain.
Analysis of the data showed that the long-term effects of influenza are not at all rare, but they are encountered almost 50% less often than after the coronavirus. So, about 30% of patients reported about long-term symptoms after the flu, while after COVID-19 – 42% of the study participants.
In addition, the unpleasant consequences of influenza, on average, go away much earlier compared to the coronavirus. Scientists estimate that 37% of COVID-19 survivors have at least one symptom six months after infection.
The study also found that the nature and frequency of long-term symptoms of COVID-19 varied significantly in different patient groups. Thus, older people and men are more likely to suffer from shortness of breath and impaired cognitive abilities, while women and young patients are more likely to complain of headaches, abdominal symptoms, anxiety and depression.
“There are various post-viral conditions, and many of us who have had the flu know that you don’t always feel better as quickly as you would like. But after the flu, long-term symptoms are much less common, ”said Professor Paul Harrison, lead author of the study.
Earlier, scientists from France found that mortality from COVID-19 was three times higher than mortality from influenza during the worst seasonal epidemic of 2018-2019 in terms of the number of deaths.
In addition, patients with coronavirus twice as often required mechanical ventilation, and one in four patients developed acute respiratory failure. Among patients with the flu, only one in five experienced breathing problems.