Sexual Dysfunction, Hair Loss Linked With Long COVID

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Aug. 12, 2022 – Hair loss, decreased sex drive, and erectile dysfunction have joined an inventory of better-known signs linked to long COVID in sufferers who weren’t hospitalized, in response to findings of a big study.

Anuradhaa Subramanian, PhD, with the Institute of Utilized Well being Analysis on the College of Birmingham in the UK, led the analysis printed on-line on July 25 in Nature Drugs.

The crew analyzed 486,149 grownup digital well being data from sufferers with confirmed COVID within the U.Ok., in comparison with 1.9 million folks with no prior historical past of COVID, from January 2020 to April 2021. Researchers matched each teams intently by way of demographic, social, and medical traits.

New Signs

The crew recognized 62 signs, together with the well-known indicators of lengthy COVID, equivalent to fatigue, lack of sense of smell, shortness of breath, and mind fog, but additionally hair loss, sexual dysfunction, chest pain, fever, lack of management of bowel actions, and limb swelling.

“These variations in signs reported between the contaminated and uninfected teams remained even after we accounted for age, intercourse, ethnic group, socioeconomic standing, body mass index, smoking standing, the presence of greater than 80 well being circumstances, and previous reporting of the identical symptom,” Subramanian and co-researcher Shamil Haroon, PhD, wrote in a summary of their analysis in The Dialog.

They level out that solely 20 of the signs they discovered are included within the World Well being Group’s clinical case definition for lengthy COVID.

Additionally they discovered that individuals extra prone to have persistent signs 3 months after COVID an infection have been additionally extra prone to be younger, feminine, people who smoke, to belong to sure minority ethnic teams, and to have decrease socioeconomic standing. They have been additionally extra prone to be overweight and have a variety of well being circumstances.

Haroon, an affiliate medical professor on the College of Birmingham, says that one purpose it appeared that youthful folks have been extra prone to get signs of lengthy COVID could also be that older adults with COVID have been extra prone to be hospitalized and weren’t included on this research.

“Since we solely thought-about non-hospitalized adults, the older adults we included in our research could have been comparatively more healthy and thus had a decrease symptom burden,” he says.

Subramania notes that older sufferers have been extra prone to report lasting COVID-related signs within the research, however when researchers accounted for a variety of different circumstances that sufferers had earlier than an infection (which usually extra generally occur in older adults), they discovered youthful age as a threat issue for long-term COVID-related signs.

Within the research interval, most sufferers have been unvaccinated, and outcomes got here earlier than the widespread Delta and Omicron variants.

Greater than half (56.6%) of the sufferers contaminated with the virus that causes COVID had been identified in 2020, and 43.4% in 2021. Lower than 5% (4.5%) of the sufferers contaminated with the virus and 4.7% of the sufferers with no recorded proof of a COVID an infection had obtained at the least a single dose of a COVID vaccine earlier than the research began.

Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Analysis Translational Institute in La Jolla, CA, and editor-in-chief of Medscape (WebMD’s sister web site for medical professionals), says extra research must be executed to see whether or not outcomes could be completely different with vaccination standing and evolving variants.

However he notes that this research has a number of strengths: “The hair loss, libido loss, and ejaculation issue are all new signs,” and the research – giant and thoroughly managed – reveals these points have been amongst these extra prone to happen.

A lack of sense of smell – which isn’t a brand new statement – was nonetheless the probably threat proven within the research, adopted by hair loss, sneezing, ejaculation issue, and decreased sex drive; adopted by shortness of breath, fatigue, chest ache related to respiration difficulties, hoarseness, and fever.

Three Fundamental Clusters of Signs

Given the big selection of signs, lengthy COVID possible represents a bunch of circumstances, the authors wrote.

They discovered three most important clusters. The most important, with roughly 80% of individuals with lengthy COVID within the research, confronted a broad spectrum of signs, starting from fatigue, to headache, to ache. The second largest group, (15%) largely had signs having to do with psychological well being and pondering expertise, together with depression, anxiousness, mind fog, and insomnia. The smallest group (5%) had primarily respiratory signs equivalent to shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Placing signs in clusters shall be necessary to start out understanding what results in lengthy COVID, says Farha Ikramuddin, MD, a physiatrist and rehabilitation specialist on the College of Minnesota Medical Faculty in Minneapolis.

She says although the signs listed on this paper are new in printed analysis, she has actually been seeing them over time in her lengthy COVID clinic. (The researchers additionally used solely coded well being care information, in order that they have been restricted in what signs they may uncover, she notes.)

Ikramuddin says a power of the paper is its giant measurement, however she additionally cautioned that it’s troublesome to find out whether or not members of the comparability group actually had no COVID an infection when the knowledge is taken from their medical data. Usually, folks check at dwelling or assume they’ve COVID and don’t check, she says, and subsequently the knowledge wouldn’t be recorded.

Evaluating non-hospitalized sufferers can be necessary, she says, as a lot of the analysis on lengthy COVID has come from hospitalized sufferers, so little has been recognized concerning the signs of these with milder infections.

“Sufferers who’ve been hospitalized and have lengthy COVID look very completely different from the sufferers who weren’t hospitalized,” Ikramuddin says.

One clear message from the paper, she says, is that listening and asking in depth questions on signs are necessary with sufferers who’ve had COVID.

Counseling has additionally change into essential for our sufferers within the pandemic,” she says.

It can even be necessary to do research on returning to work for sufferers with lengthy COVID to see what number of are capable of return and at what capability, Ikramuddin says.

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