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‘Long-haul’ COVID-19 symptoms reported more by women, researcher says

The long-haul COVID-19 symptoms vary widely. But one researcher says women are more likely to report them

Tess Sullivan receives a COVID-19 test in Utah.
Tess Sullivan receives a COVID-19 test from Brad Langdorf at TestUtah’s COVID-19 mobile testing unit at Provo Towne Centre on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Experts recently told The Lily (published by The Washington Post) that women are reporting more “long-haul” COVID-19 symptoms, raising questions about how the virus impacts women and men.

Context

Some COVID-19 patients suffer from symptoms for weeks if not months after their diagnosis. These patients are called “long-haulers.” Some of the long-haul symptoms include exhaustion, shortness of breath, headaches, fast heart beats, changes in taste and smell and brain fog, among other symptoms.

So what’s new?

Ryan Hurt, the lead researcher at the Mayo Clinic on post-COVID-19 syndrome, told The Lily that he has seen 20,000 positive COVID-19 cases in his hospital. In total, 10% of those cases had long-haul symptoms. And 60% to 80% of those patients were women.

  • Similarly, Diana Berrent, the founder of Survivor Corps, a group for COVID-19 long-haulers, said that her group has 150,000 members — 82% are women and 18% are men.

Hurt said he’s unsure why there may be a difference between women and men suffering long-haul symptoms, but it could be related to the immune system.

  • Per The Lily; “Aside from biology, there may be deep sociological or cultural underpinnings accounting for the split — simply that women may be more willing to seek medical attention and speak openly about symptoms, especially those affiliated with mood and cognitive issues.”

What about men?

Research has pointed out that men deal with COVID-19 differently, too. For example, a study back in December suggested that men with COVID-19 are three times more likely to require intensive care, according to MedicalExpress. Men were also reported at a higher risk of dying from the novel coronavirus, too.

  • “These data may help doctors to recognize that sex is a risk factor for severe disease when managing patients,” co-author Kate Webb said at the time, according to Newsweek.
  • “Sex is an under reported variable in many studies and this is a reminder that it is an important factor to consider in research,” Webb said, per Newsweek.