Objective: We characterized the evolution of neurologic symptoms and self-perceived recovery of non-hospitalized COVID-19 "long haulers" 6-9 months after their initial Neuro-COVID-19 clinic evaluation.
Methods: In this follow-up study on the first 100 patients, 50 SARS-CoV-2 laboratory-positive (SARS-CoV-2+ ), and 50 laboratory-negative (SARS-CoV-2- ), evaluated at our Neuro-COVID-19 clinic between May and November 2020, patients completed phone questionnaires on their neurologic symptoms, subjective impression of recovery and quality of life.
Results: Of 52 patients who completed the study (27 SARS-CoV-2+ , 25 SARS-CoV-2- ) a median 14.8 (range 11-18) months after symptom onset, mean age was 42.8 years, 73% were female, and 77% were vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2. Overall, there was no significant change in the frequency of most neurologic symptoms between first and follow-up evaluations, including "brain fog" (81 vs. 71%), numbness/tingling (69 vs. 65%), headache (67 vs. 54%), dizziness (50 vs. 54%), blurred vision (34 vs. 44%), tinnitus (33 vs. 42%), and fatigue (87 vs. 81%). However, dysgeusia and anosmia decreased overall (63 vs. 27%, 58 vs. 21%, both p < 0.001). Conversely, heart rate and blood pressure variation (35 vs. 56%, p = 0.01) and gastrointestinal symptoms (27 vs. 48%, p = 0.04) increased at follow-up. Patients reported improvements in their recovery, cognitive function, and fatigue, but quality of life measures remained lower than the US normative population (p < 0.001). SARS-CoV-2 vaccination did not have a positive or detrimental impact on cognitive function or fatigue.
Interpretation: Non-hospitalized COVID-19 "long haulers" continue to experience neurologic symptoms, fatigue, and compromised quality of life 14.8 months after initial infection.
© 2022 The Authors. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Neurological Association.