Onset, duration and unresolved symptoms, including smell and taste changes, in mild COVID-19 infection: a cohort study in Israeli patients

Hadar Klein, Kim Asseo, Noam Karni, Yuval Benjamini, Ran Nir-Paz, Mordechai Muszkat, Sarah Israel, Masha Y. Niv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: To characterize longitudinal symptoms of mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients for a period of 6 months, to potentially aid in disease management. Methods: Phone interviews were conducted with 103 patients with mild COVID-19 in Israel over a 6-month period (April 2020 to October 2020). Patients were recruited via social media and word to mouth and were interviewed up to 4 times, depending on reports of their unresolved symptoms. Inclusion criteria required participants to be residents of Israel aged 18 years or older, with positive COVID-19 real-time PCR results and nonsevere symptoms. The onset, duration, severity and resolution of symptoms were analysed. Results: A total of 44% (45/103), 41% (42/103), 39% (40/103) and 38% (39/103) of patients experienced headache, fever, muscle ache and dry cough as the first symptom respectively. Smell and taste changes were experienced at 3.9 ± 5.4 and 4.6 ± 5.7 days (mean ± standard deviation (SD)) after disease onset respectively. Among prevalent symptoms, fever had the shortest duration (5.8 ± 8.6 days), and taste and smell changes were the longest-lasting symptoms (17.2 ± 17.6 and 18.9 ± 19.7 days; durations censored at 60 days). Longer recovery of the sense of smell correlated with the extent of smell change. At the 6-month follow-up, 46% (47/103) of the patients had at least one unresolved symptom, most commonly fatigue (22%, 23/103), smell and taste changes (15%, 15/103 and 8%, 8/103 respectively) and breathing difficulties (8%, 8/103). Conclusions: Long-lasting effects of mild COVID-19 manifested in almost half of the participants reporting at least one unresolved symptom after 6 months.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Disease course
  • Recovery
  • Smell change
  • Symptoms duration
  • Taste change
  • Unresolved symptoms

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