August 5, 2020 | 2:30am
A recent survey identified dozens of potential long-term coronavirus symptoms that had previously been unreported, including hair loss.
The study was conducted by a doctor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the grassroots COVID-19 survivor group Survivor Corps using a Facebook poll. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently identified only 17 persistent COVID-19 symptoms, the survey of more than 1,500 patients found 98 possible symptoms, according to Dr. Natalie Lambert, an associate research professor at the Indiana University school of medicine.
“The new symptoms our study identified include severe nerve pain, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, blurry vision and even hair loss,” Lambert said in a written statement.
The CDC has identified fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea as symptoms that may appear between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus.
More than a quarter of the new survey’s reported symptoms – 26.5% – were painful, according to the report. They included some of the same symptoms identified by the CDC, plus others like heartburn, back pain and chest pain.
The rest of the symptoms were painless, including nearly a third of respondents who reported hair loss. Other reported symptoms included memory problems, anxiety, dizziness and blurry vision, among others.
One member of the group who said she contracted COVID-19 in early April estimated she had lost 75% of her hair and wrote that she planned to get a wig.
“My face already looks more aged since contracting the virus but still I’m resilient,” she wrote. “I’m not sure if my hair will ever return back the same.”
The American Academy of Dermatology is also tracking “dermatologic manifestations” of the coronavirus. The group has already warned of people with the virus developing a rash or “COVID toes” that are swollen and discolored.
Dr. Esther Freeman, who’s leading the academy’s efforts on the coronavirus, told Today.com that they have also seen an increasing number of hair loss cases.
The hair loss may be tied to a condition called telogen effluvium, according to the report. It causes people who experience a stressful illness or other life event to shed hair. Telogen effluvium hair loss typically starts about three months after the stressful event, which Freeman told Today would coincide with the pandemic’s peak.
While there’s still a lot to learn about COVID-19, many members of the Survivor Corps group have reported difficulty in getting help from their doctors to manage less common coronavirus symptoms.
While Facebook is not typically used as a basis for medical studies, Lambert said the Survivor Corps group was valuable for crowdsourcing experiences.
“Until there is more research that helps us to understand why these long-term symptoms are happening and how to treat them, thousands of long haulers will continue to suffer at home; both from painful COVID-19 symptoms and uncertainty about when they will feel well again.”