Hair loss and lower libido among long Covid symptoms – new research

Long Covid sufferers may have experienced a wider variety of symptoms than previously thought, new research has found.
About 2 million people in the UK have persistent symptoms after Covid -19 infection, termed long Covid.
Commonly reported long Covid symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, have a significant effect on people’s daily activities, quality of life and capacity to work.
But long Covid symptoms are much broader than this. In a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, we identified 62 symptoms associated with long Covid. We also explored some of the factors linked to an increased risk of developing long Covid.
Much of the initial work undertaken to understand long Covid has been among people who were hospitalised, but most people infected with Covid have been managed in primary care. We therefore know relatively little about long Covid in people with typically milder initial infections.
In our study, we analysed electronic primary care records from more than 450,000 people in England with a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19, and 1.9 million people with no prior history of Covid-19, from January 2020 to April 2021. We matched both groups very closely in terms of their demographic, social and clinical characteristics. We then assessed the relative differences in the reporting of 115 symptoms to GPs. For those who had Covid-19, we measured this at least 12 weeks after they were infected.
We found that people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 were significantly more likely to report 62 symptoms, only 20 of which are included in the World Health Organization’s clinical case definition for long Covid.
Some of these symptoms were expected, like loss of sense of smell, shortness of breath and fatigue. But some of the symptoms that we found to be strongly associated with Covid-19 beyond 12 weeks were surprising and less well known, such as hair loss and reduced libido. Other symptoms included chest pain, fever, bowel incontinence, erectile dysfunction and limb swelling.
These differences in symptoms reported between the infected and uninfected groups remained even after we accounted for age, sex, ethnic group, socioeconomic status, body mass index, smoking status, the presence of more than 80 health conditions, and past reporting of the same symptom.
We also found that younger age, female sex, belonging to certain ethnic minority groups, lower socioeconomic status, smoking, obesity, and a wide range of health conditions were all associated with a higher risk of reporting persistent symptoms more than ...