Study looks into demographics of people dealing with long COVID symptoms: What to know

Symptoms include memory loss, brain fog, shortness of breath and weakness


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A study found that long COVID was more common among women, Hispanics, and Michigan residents with lower incomes.

The Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study also found that people with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 are also more likely to have long-term post-COVID symptoms.

“There needs to be more of an emphasis on the weight of long COVID and that it is going to have a bigger impact than I think people might realize,” said Elizabeth Slocum, a postdoctoral fellow at the U-M School of Public Health and lead author of the report. “These data provide a more confident estimate of long COVID, given that it was over a longer time period during the pandemic.”

The study was a joint collaboration between the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We need to recognize that there are people who are suffering long-term consequences from having had COVID-19 and that’s going to continue to affect them into the future,” study co-author and senior investigator Nancy Fleischer, U-M associate professor of epidemiology, says. “And so the clinics and hospitals and physicians and the public health system need to be aware that this is an ongoing part of the pandemic.”

Long COVID is defined by the study as prolonged or persistent symptoms lasting at least 90 days following the onset of COVID. The study recruited 9,000 adults in Michigan with COVID-19 onset prior to April 15, 2021. Among the roughly 2,700 adults surveyed, 21.4% had long COVID.

Symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, shortness of breath and impaired cognitive or physical function. People with long COVID usually report symptoms that fluctuate.

The researchers found that long COVID:

  • Was more prevalent among females, Hispanic respondents and those over 75 years old.
  • Was more prevalent among respondents with less than a high school education and among those with incomes lower than $50,000 a year.
  • Was experienced by 27% of those reporting a preexisting condition such as an immunosuppressive condition, COPD or emphysema, cancer or heart disease.
  • Included the following common, ongoing symptoms: fatigue, loss of sense of smell or taste, memory loss, brain fog, shortness of breath, general weakness, joint pain and hair loss.

View the results of the study below

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.