A corona infection leaves health marks in many people even after months. They suffer significantly more often from chronic fatigue syndrome than people who have had no contact with the virus, as a study by the Berlin Charité and the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) shows. “Long-lasting chronic fatigue after SARS-CoV-2 infection is quite a common and relevant problem. The disease is associated with great personal suffering, leads to absences at work and represents a significant burden on the healthcare system,” says Carsten Finke from the Charité’s neurology clinic.
According to the scientists, there have been no reliable figures for the frequency of late and long-term consequences such as chronic exhaustion after Covid-19. The research team led by Finke and Walter Maetzler, deputy director of the UKSH Clinic for Neurology, evaluated data from around 1,000 patients for the study, whose infection was at least six months previously. This was compared with a group of around 1,000 people without a previous infection, whose data had been collected for a population study by the University of Leipzig before the pandemic.
The result: Almost a fifth of those previously infected with corona showed relevant symptoms for chronic fatigue syndrome, in contrast to only eight percent in the comparison group. The experts conclude that chronic exhaustion is more than twice as common months after an infection as in the healthy general population.
Younger women between the ages of 18 and 24 are particularly affected. Mental impairments were more likely to be observed in men aged 55 and over. Overall, these were found in 27 percent of those examined. “In a direct comparison with the general population, we did not expect such high numbers and such a clear difference,” says Finke.
The scientists identified neurological symptoms during acute Covid disease as risk factors for the later occurrence of fatigue. You now want to pursue the question of whether the cognitive deficits will remain permanently or whether they will recede. “The current data provide the first indications that chronic fatigue syndrome is less pronounced the longer the illness occurred,” says Maetzler.