ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0376.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Other Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; long-COVID; sequalae; symptoms; Latin America; high altitude
Online: 22 August 2022 (06:04:53 CEST)
Background: Some patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have experienced a range of persistent symptoms or the appearance of new ones after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. These symptoms can last from weeks to months, impacting everyday functioning to a significant number of patients. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis based on an online, self-reporting questionnaire was conducted in Ecuador from April to July 2022. Participants were invited by social media, radio, and TV to voluntarily participate in our study. A total of 2103 surveys were included in this study. We compared socio-demographic variables and long-term persisting symptoms at low (< 2,500 m) and high altitude (>2,500 m).Results: Overall, 1100 (52.3%) responders claimed to have long-term symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most of these symptoms were reported by women (64.0%), the most affected group was young adults (68.5%), and the majority of long-haulers were mestizos (91.6%). We found that high altitude residents were more likely to report persisting symptoms (71.7%) versus those living at lower altitudes (29.3%). The most common symptoms were fatigue or tiredness (8.4%), hair loss (5.1%) and difficulty concentrating (5.0%). The highest proportion of persisting symptoms was observed among those who received an incomplete vaccine scheme.Conclusions: This is the first study describing post-COVID symptoms' persistence in low and high-altitude residents. Our findings demonstrate that women, especially those aging between 20-40, are more likely to describe sequalae associated with post-COVID. We also found that living at a high altitude was associated with earlier onset and longer symptom duration. Finally, we found a greater risk to report long lasting symptoms among women, those with previous comorbidities and those who had a severer acute SARS-CoV-2 infection.