Long COVID symptoms differ between genders: Study
Women with long COVID — defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as symptoms lasting 12 or more weeks beyond the initial illness — show a wider range of symptoms than men, according to a new study.
The study, published online March 25, 2022, by the Journal of Women’s Health, tracked 223 patients (89 female, 134 male) who suffered severe cases of COVID-19 before vaccines were available or widespread.
About 72% of all participants required hospitalization, with 17% needing a ventilator to breathe.
Compared with men, women continued to report more symptoms in the weeks immediately following the initial illness.
The women more often described persistent weakness, altered smell and taste, chest pain, palpitations, diarrhea, or muscle pain.
The researchers next examined those who developed long COVID. An average of five months after the initial infection, a larger proportion of the women with long COVID had lingering symptoms compared with the men (97% vs. 84%).
These women were significantly more likely than the men to report weakness, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations.
Since this study looked only at people with severe COVID, it will be interesting to see if future research shows similar sex differences in the thousands of people with long COVID following mild initial symptoms.
Harvard health publishing