(HealthDay News) — The frequency of long-term symptoms associated with COVID-19 is higher among individuals who self-reported ever receiving a positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test, according to research published in the Sept. 10 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Valentine Wanga, Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues surveyed a nationwide sample of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older to compare the prevalence of long-term symptoms among persons receiving a positive SARS-CoV-2 test with the prevalence of similar symptoms among persons who reported always receiving a negative test result.

The researchers found that about two-thirds of those with a positive test result experienced long-term symptoms. Those who received a positive test result reported a significantly higher prevalence of any long-term symptom compared with respondents who received a negative test result (65.9 versus 42.9%), and they had a higher prevalence of fatigue (22.5 versus 12%), change in sense of smell or taste (17.3 versus 1.7%), shortness of breath (15.5 versus 5.2%), cough (14.5 versus 4.9%), headache (13.8 versus 9.9%), and persistence (more than four weeks) of at least one initially occurring symptom (76.2 versus 69.6%). The proportion who reported believing that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine made their long-term symptoms better was higher for those who received a positive test result compared with those who received a negative test result (28.7 versus 15.7%).

“These findings can help guide public health preparedness efforts, resource needs for care and management of persons with post-COVID conditions, and communication about experiences with vaccination,” the authors write. “The findings can also aid efforts to address post-COVID conditions, including helping health care professionals recognize the most common symptoms and optimize care for patients whose symptoms persist.”

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