Experiencing fatigue, memory problems after COVID? It’s more common than you think, study finds

Researchers at U-M found that the most common "long COVID" symptoms are fatigue and memory issues. (Pexels)

ANN ARBOR – Nearly half of people who contracted COVID-19 around the world experienced some long haul symptoms, according to a new study by the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 50 studies that encompassed 1.6 million people. They found that 43% of those infected with the virus later experienced “long COVID” symptoms.

“I was really surprised to see the results of this meta analysis, and in particular that fatigue and memory problems were the two most commonly reported post COVID conditions,” Bhramar Mukherjee, professor and Chair of Biostatistics at the U-M School of Public Health and senior author of the study, said in a release.

The regions the Mukherjee and his team focused on were Asia, Europe and North America.

According to a U-M release, here are some highlights from the study:

  • Global prevalence for post COVID-19 conditions at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days after infection were estimated to be 37, 25, 32, and 49 percent.
  • Regionally, Asia had the highest post COVID-19 condition prevalence at 51 percent, followed by Europe at 44 percent, and North America at 31 percent.
  • Fatigue (23 percent) and memory problems (14 percent) were cited as the most common symptoms of individuals with post COVID-19 condition.
  • Some lingering post COVID-19 symptoms remain in roughly 34 percent of non-hospitalized COVID patients while the rate jumps to 54 percent for hospitalized COVID patients.

The researchers hypothesize that the landscape of COVID-19 recovery is changing with new -- and sometimes milder -- variants. They also noted that it is challenging to combine the studies since protocols vary from country to country when diagnosing long COVID.

“Long COVID is quite common overall and across geographic regions, sex and acute COVID-19 severity,” wrote lead authors and graduate students Chen Chen and Spencer Haupert. “Knowing this, providers should take proactive approaches such that their patients are well-supported when experiencing long-term health effects of COVID-19.”

To read the full study, click here.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.