Almost one in five suffering from long COVID

Dr Mulu Woldegiorgis. Credit: Alice Wetherell/ANU

An Australian National University (ANU) study of more than 11,000 Australians who tested positive to COVID-19 in 2022 shows almost one in five were still experiencing ongoing symptoms three months after their initial diagnosis.

The study was conducted in Western Australia (WA), with participants drawn from the almost 71,000 adults who tested positive to COVID-19 in WA between 16 July 2022 and 3 August 2022.   

“It is more than double the prevalence reported in a review of Australian data from earlier in the pandemic, and higher than similar studies done in the UK and Canada.”

The risk of long COVID was greater for women and people aged 50 to 69, as well as those with pre-existing health conditions and people who’d had fewer vaccine doses. 

The researchers found 90% of the study participants with long COVID reported experiencing multiple symptoms.  The most frequently reported symptom was tiredness and fatigue (70%), followed by difficulty thinking or concentrating, or ‘brain fog’, sleep problems and coughing.  

A third of women with long COVID also reported changes in their menstrual cycle.  

“More than a third of individuals with persistent long COVID (38%) had sought medical care in the month prior to the survey,” said Dr Woldegiorgis. 

“This most frequently involved a visit to a GP. Hospitalisations or trips to the emergency department were thankfully less common.”  

Long Covid symptoms

While most people with long COVID (64%) were able to fully return to work or study within a month, 18% reported still not being well enough to do so three months after their infection.  

“Further studies could help us better understand the duration and severity of long COVID and identify effective treatments. We are currently looking into a six-month follow up survey with this same group,” said Dr Woldegiorgis.

The research was funded by the Western Australia Department of Health and is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

One Response

  1. I am 74, have long covid. Severe tiredness, hot sweats, brain fog, tongling in right side of head. I’ve had covid 4 times last time was early January. 10 days really sick. I’m interested in any information available.

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