Women with long COVID-19 syndrome found to have more symptoms than men

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New research has found that females with long COVID-19 syndrome were more symptomatic than males and significantly more likely to experience difficulty swallowing, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations at a long-term follow-up.

The study, published in Journal of Women’s Health, and conducted by researchers at  University of Parma, and University-Hospital of Parma in Ohio, sought to characterize the long-term consequences of COVID-19 based on sex. They enrolled 223 patients, of which, 89 were female and 134 were male. All were infected by SARS-CoV-2 and discharged from the ward or from the outpatient clinic after a diagnosis of COVID-19 during the first three waves of the pandemic. In addition, they were referred for a follow-up visit at the University-Hospital of Parma between May 2020 and March 2021.

According to the study, in the acute phase of the illness, the female participants reported symptoms such as weakness, dysgeusia, anosmia, thoracic pain, palpitations, diarrhea, and myalgia, more frequently than the males. These symptoms came without significant differences in breathlessness, cough, and sleep disturbance.

After a mean follow-up time of five months post the acute phase, females were significantly more likely than males to report dyspnea, weakness, thoracic pain, palpitations, and sleep disturbance but not myalgia and cough. At the multivariate logistic regression, women were also statistically significantly likely to experience persistent symptoms such as dyspnea, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations, according to the study. The authors found, however, myalgia, cough, and sleep disturbance were not influenced by sex.

Ninety-one percent of patients evaluated at follow-up evaluation continued to experience COVID-19 symptoms. Breathlessness was the most common symptoms of long COVID-19 syndrome, followed by fatigue. Ninety-seven percent of females showed symptoms, as compared to 84 percent of the males evaluated, according to the study.

As a result, the authors discovered that females in the study were more symptomatic than males, not just in the acute phase of the infection, but also in the follow-up period.

According to the study, sex was found to be an important determinant of long-COVID-19 syndrome because it is a significant predictor of persistent symptoms in the females. The researchers recommend the need for long-term follow-up of these patients from a sex perspective to implement early preventive and personalized therapeutic strategies.