Compared with other common viral respiratory infections, previous COVID-19 infection was found to significantly predict the occurrence of palpitations, hair loss, fatigue, angina, dyspnea, joint pain, and obesity. These study results were published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

Researchers sought to identify the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection. They assessed whether some outcomes are more likely to occur between 1 month and 1 year following COVID-19 infection compared with other viral respiratory infections. Patients who were previously infected with COVID-19 were propensity-scored matched against those who were previously infected with the common cold, influenza, or viral pneumonia between March 2020 and April 2021. The researchers compared outcomes between 3 patient cohorts, including those previously infected with COVID-19 vs other viral respiratory infections, those previously infected with COVID-19 vs noninfected, and those previously infected with other viral respiratory infections vs noninfected. Logistic regression was used to estimate propensity scores, and populations were matched to ensure patient demographics and comorbidities were similar between cohorts.

Patients in the COVID-19 (n=17,487) vs VRI (n=17,487) cohorts were mostly women (66.1%), White (73.3% vs 73.2%), and aged 50 to 64 years (25.9% vs 26.2%).

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Compared with other respiratory viral infections, COVID-19 infection was a positive predictor of palpitations (odds ratio [OR], 1.32; 95% CI, 1.17-1.49), hair loss (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.05-1.67), fatigue (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.22), angina (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.02-1.18), dyspnea (OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.01-1.16), joint pain (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.02-1.15), and obesity (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01-1.15). Of these, only the risk for dyspnea and angina remained significantly increased in patients who were previously infected with COVID-19 when compared with those with no previous infection.

Further analysis between patients with COVID-19 vs other viral respiratory infections showed that the final reported incidence of fatigue (P =.0001) and joint pain (P =.0359) occurred significantly earlier in those with COVID-19 infection.

No significant associations were observed between previous COVID-19 infection and the occurrence of any long-term neurologic symptoms.

Study limitations include the lack of data related to the Omicron variant, vaccination status, and medications used for the treatment of COVID-19 infection. In addition, testing procedures may have differed between institutions.

According to the researchers, “A better understanding of the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection is critical for public health.”


Baskett WI, Qureshi AI, Shyu D, Armer JM, Shyu C-R. COVID-specific long-term sequelae in comparison to common viral respiratory infections: an analysis of 17,487 infected adult patients. Open Forum Infect Dis. Published online December 21, 2022. doi:10.1093/ofid/ofac683

This article originally appeared on Infectious Disease Advisor