As the end of winter draws near, much of the world is marking its one-year anniversary living under COVID-19-related restrictions. That's certainly not a milestone worthy of celebration, and many people across the globe would insist it's felt like much more than a year since their lives were first affected by COVID-19.
By the time the calendar finally turned from 2020 to 2021, tens of millions of people across the globe had been infected with COVID-19. According to Worldometer, which manually analyzes, validates and aggregates data from thousands of sources in real time, by early January 2021 there were more than 87 million documented cases of COVID-19 and nearly two million virus-related deaths across the globe. Nearly 62 million COVID-19 patients recovered from the virus by early 2021, but many of those people may suffer from long-term health effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actively working to learn more about the potential long-term effects associated with COVID-19. Because of the relative infancy of the virus, it's impossible to know just how long the long-term side effects in recovered patients will last. However, the CDC notes that the following are some of the most commonly reported long-term symptoms, which have been documented to linger anywhere from several weeks to even months after recovery.
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
In addition to those symptoms, the CDC notes that some people who have recovered from COVID-19 have reported experiencing difficulty with thinking and concentration as well as depression. Recovering patients also have reported symptoms like muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever, and heart palpitations.
More serious long-term complications are being investigated by the CDC. Such complications have thus far appeared to be less common, though the CDC cautions that more research and time is needed to determine clinical care for COVID-19 as well as how many people may ultimately experience these symptoms.
- Cardiovascular: Inflammation of the heart muscle
- Respiratory: Lung function abnormalities
- Renal: Acute kidney injury
- Dermatologic: Rash, hair loss
- Neurological: Smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
- Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood
As the world continues to combat COVID-19, public health agencies like the CDC are learning more about the virus, including some long-term side effects that could affect patients after they have recovered.