It’s Not Just COVID. There’s Also Long Flu and Pneumonia

Like COVID-19, epic studies show that influenza and other viral pneumonia can cause long-term symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog. Why this happens is an open question.

No one knows why Covid is so long. Its lack of certainty leaves ample room for competing theories to sprout.

Harvard researchers last week Preprint Posted on medRxiv, people with long Covid suggest that they may have an active SARS-CoV-2 virus reservoir in the gastrointestinal tract long after the acute illness is over. Another group of researchers at Harvard University draws a causal line between long COVIDs and small blood clots to test whether anticoagulants are an effective treatment. The University of California, San Francisco also has a group that has long COVIDs associated with the reactivated Epstein-Barr virus. medRxiv preprint..

Researchers at epic, an electronic health record company, have added another subplot to this complex and protracted illness story using an Epic dataset named Cosmos, which contains 142 million patients. did. found As with long covids, there are prominent cases of “long flu” and “long viral pneumonia” when people experience a variety of symptoms after the end of an acute respiratory illness.

“This is something I’ve never thought of as a doctor,” says Dr. Jeff Trinkl, one of Epic’s researchers. “I wasn’t thinking about long-term illness. Two months later (patient) I could have a brain fog or feel this tiredness. I made that association. there is no.”

“Long flu” and “long viral pneumonia” are more common than long Covid, according to Epic’s findings, which the company published on the Epic Research website earlier this month but not reported in peer-reviewed journals. There is a possibility.

Related: No short-term infection: COVID-19 can be long-distance

According to Trinkl and his colleagues, 17.6% of patients hospitalized for influenza are new after acute illness, compared to 15.5% of patients hospitalized for other viral pneumonia and 13.9% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19. I showed some symptoms. Symptoms included in their study included fatigue, loss of smell and taste, palpitation, chest pain, dyspnea, myalgia (myalgia), and brain fog. The study focused on the symptoms that patients sought care for from 28 days after the end of the acute illness to the next 5 months (ie, between 28 and 180 days after the end of the acute illness).

When researchers take into account the baseline rate of symptoms (calculated by looking at the complaints of the symptoms before acute illness), the proportion of patients who may be classified as having a long flu has dropped to 6.4%. However, it was still greater than the 5.2% who had the flu. Symptoms that can be grouped under the long Covid heading.

Epic researchers also looked at patients seeking treatment for new symptoms after an attack of acute viral respiratory disease that did not result in hospitalization and probably had a milder acute episode. In that group, the proportion of cases of long viral pneumonia was higher than that of long Covid and long influenza (11.1%, 8.7%, and 5.9%, respectively).

Patients with COVID-19 in this study were diagnosed between January 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. Cases of influenza and other viral pneumonia were diagnosed between January 1, 2018 and July 1, 2018, before the COVID-19 epidemic. , 2019.

Long Covid has put the spotlight on the sequelae of viral illness, Trinkl said. “In 2018,” says Trinkle.[if] Some of the symptoms we saw, such as tiredness and fatigue, occurred. There are also more specific symptoms such as chest pain. I can’t look back. “Oh, this is related to this virus infection, long ago.” “I’m just tired,” so you may not even be able to participate in it, “Trinkle said. say.

“But now, COVID is coming,” continues Trinkle. “And with so much debate about some of the symptoms that can occur in the long run, people with COVID feel more sensitive to looking for these types of symptoms.”

With Covid’s longevity and these findings, it is certainly possible (and probably) more people will seek treatment for long-term symptoms after influenza and other respiratory illnesses.

Trinkl and his colleagues hope their results will lead to more research. “This deserves a broader conversation because we can see this pattern repeat throughout the infection,” said Eric Barkley, an Epic data scientist and one of the researchers involved in the Epic study. I am saying.

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