Even mild COVID in young people often leads to long-term symptoms, study finds

A UNLV Medicine medical assistant administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination to a UNLV School of Nursing student.

Enlarge / A UNLV Medicine medical assistant administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination to a UNLV School of Nursing student. (credit: Getty | Ethan Miller)

Even mild cases of COVID-19 in young people often lead to lingering symptoms and health complications that drag on for six months or longer, according to a small Norwegian study published this week in Nature Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Bergen carefully followed 312 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 for at least six months. Of those, 247 had mild to moderate illnesses and isolated at home, never becoming sick enough to be admitted to a hospital. Six months after testing positive, 136 of the 247 (55 percent) still had lingering symptoms. And those 136 weren’t only in the older age groups. In fact, in all the age groups between 16 and over 60 years old, between 50 percent and 60 percent of COVID patients reported persistent symptoms.

For instance, of those between 16 and 30 years old, 52 percent (32 of 61) still suffered COVID-19 symptoms after six months. The most common symptoms were disturbed taste and/or smell, fatigue, difficulty breathing, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.

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