A new study conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital has found that long COVID-19 infections could be associated with long-term nerve damage in some people.
The researchers explored the effects of long-COVID by analyzing the data of 17 participants who had the condition. They tracked their health outcomes over a year, including their general symptoms, results from medical examinations, and neurodiagnostic test results.
They found that almost 60% of patients had symptoms related to peripheral neuropathy, like pain in their hands and feet, sensory changes, weakness, and fatigue. The researchers believe this could be related to long-term immune system dysfunction.
What are the risks of long-COVID?
According to the WHO, there have been 438,968,263 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,969,439 deaths. As the number of cases continues to rise, new drugs and treatment options are delivering promising results – and researchers are now looking into utilizing existing drugs.
However, some people with COVID-19 are continuing to experience symptoms of “long-COVID” for several weeks or months, especially older people and those with serious medical conditions.
Some of these symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, a persistent cough, memory, concentration, sleep problems, loss of sense of smell or taste, and depression or anxiety.
The researchers in this study found that over half of the participants experienced an improvement in their symptoms during the study, and many responded well to treatments. However, they noted that it’s important to highlight some of the lesser-known risks.
Researcher Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander said, “This is one of the early papers looking into causes of long-COVID, which will steadily increase in importance as acute COVID wanes.
Our findings suggest that some long-COVID patients had damage to their peripheral nerve fibers and that damage to the small-fiber type of nerve cell may be prominent.
Research from our team and others is clarifying what the different types of post-COVID neuropathy are, and how best to diagnose and treat them.
Most long-COVID neuropathies described so far appear to reflect immune responses to the virus that went off course. And some patients seem to improve from standard treatments for other immune-related neuropathies.”