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Study Finds People Lose Taste as They Age and More News

Study Finds People Lose Taste as They Age and More News

In today's Weekly Media Mix, Kim Jong-Il's sushi chef spills secrets, plus is fro-yo taking over Manhattan?

Arthur Bovino

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Chefs and Personalities
Your favorite retail stores (think Tommy Bahama, Urban Outfitters) have actually been operating restaurants in prime locations, and it might become more popular. [BusinessWeek]

Politics
Kim Jong-Il's former sushi chef shares a little about the former North Korean leader, saying toro was his favorite sushi. [Atlantic Wire]

Newark Mayor Cory Booker decided to live off food stamps for a week. He's already missing coffee. [CBS]

Crime
A McDonald's employee was allegedly attacked over a piece of cheese that wasn't supposed to be on a hamburger. [HuffPo]

CityScapes
Forget dirty water dogs and pizza; Is fro-yo becoming the next New York food? (Our answer: No.) [New York Observer]

Science
Apparently, as we get older, our sense of taste diminishes, but it's not because of our aging taste buds. Blame your nose, instead. [NY Times]


Perfumer Helps COVID Survivors Regain Their Sense of Smell: ‘It Literally Brought Them to Tears’

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, fragrance expert Sue Phillips saw her business dry up. She would typically spend her days creating scents for major companies like Tiffany & Co. and Lancôme, or in-person with customers at her shop in New York City.

Phillips learned to pivot, moving her fragrance events to Zoom, but in the last month she found a new way to help, using her skills in the perfume world to help COVID-19 survivors who are still missing their sense of smell find it again.

It all began after a friend sent Lyss Stern, a COVID-19 survivor, to Phillips&apos shop. Stern had lost her sense of smell in March 2020 and was struggling without it more than a year and a half later.

"I said to her, &aposLook, I&aposm not a doctor, and I&aposm not a chemist, but I know the extraordinary powers of fragrance,&apos " Phillips tells PEOPLE. She took Stern through a "fragrance journey," through three types of scents — top notes, the lighter fragrances medium notes, such as florals and fruits and deeper base notes like vanilla and woodsy scents. That last group did the trick.

"She couldn&apost really smell the top notes, she couldn&apost really identify the middle notes, but then suddenly there was a flicker in her eye, and she said, &aposI can smell something. I don&apost know what it is, but I can smell something.&apos "

When Stern realized she could smell vanilla and amber scents, "she literally almost started to weep," Phillips says. "She could smell something for the first time, so she got very emotional and I got very emotional."

The "breakthrough" moment made the news in New York City, and Phillips soon heard from another woman in her mid-twenties, Marissa Karen, who also hadn&apost smelled in more than a year. Phillips took Karen through the same fragrance journey, and in her case, the medium notes, a citrus scent, was what worked.

"She texted me about three hours later and said, &aposI cannot believe what you just did, for the first time I&aposm smelling my candles, I&aposm smelling restaurants, I&aposm smelling food. I have not been able to do this,&apos " Phillips says. "It was like the fog had lifted and she could smell. It literally brought them to tears."

Phillips says her phone and email are now "blowing up" with requests from COVID-19 survivors who hope that they, too, can finally regain their sense of smell with her help. But for those who aren&apost nearby, she recommends getting fruits like lemons, limes and grapefruit and test out their smell, first with their eyes opened and then with them closed.

"What they&aposre doing is exercising their brain," she says. "I want them to smell with their brain, because our olfactory system, our sense of smell, is directly connected to the limbic system in the brain."

RELATED VIDEO: Tom Hanks Says He and Rita Wilson Had &aposVery Different Reactions&apos to COVID-19: It &aposWas Odd&apos

For Phillips, who spent the last year being "really vigilant" about staying protected from COVID-19 out of fear of losing her sense of smell, says she&aposs thrilled to be able to use her skills to help others.

"When people can&apost smell and they can&apost taste, they can&apost enjoy their food and they don&apost want to socialize. The net result is that people retract from society," she says. "The fact that I&aposm able to help them rediscover their sense of smell and get back to enjoying things is such a joy. I&aposm so happy that I&aposve been able to help people."

As information about the਌oronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from򠳜, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources,਍onate to Direct Relief here.


Color Vision Tends to Fade With Age: Study

TUESDAY, March 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Here's one more ability that seems to decline with age: color sense. A new study finds that many people lose their ability to clearly distinguish certain colors as they age, with losses typically starting around age 70 and getting worse over time.

But there's good news too: In general, the loss of color vision in seniors doesn't seem to affect day-to-day life.

Still, the findings raise issues about whether assumptions about the lack of problems are true. "[The decline] is probably not detrimental in their lives in any way, but that's the next question: What are the practical implications of these findings?" said study lead author Marilyn Schneck, a scientist with the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, in San Francisco. "There's another question: What in the visual system is causing these changes?"

Researchers have long known that color vision can deteriorate as people get older, Schneck said. The lenses of their eyes can become yellowish, causing them to see as if they were looking through a yellow filter, she said. This can disrupt their so-called "blue-yellow" vision, preventing them in certain situations from distinguishing blue from purple and yellow from green and yellow-green. Problems are especially apparent when colors are washed out, Schneck said.

This is different from inherited colorblindness, which is more common among men and prevents people from distinguishing red from green.

In the new study, researchers sought to understand how common the color-vision problems are among older people. They gave tests to nearly 900 people aged 58 to 102 from the Northern California enclave of Marin County, leaving out anyone who had inherited colorblindness.

Color-vision problems in the blue-yellow spectrum affected 45 percent of people in their mid-70s, and that proportion rose to two-thirds by the time people reached their mid-90s. Few people had problems with the red-green spectrum.

Can these people restore their old color vision? Cataract surgery can make major difference because it replaces lenses in the eyes, clearing away the yellowish film, Schneck said. But, she said, the problems don't appear to be fixable with glasses.

Continued

As for causes, Schneck said they appear to be cataracts, retinal disease and normal aging, although she said more research is needed to better pinpoint what's going on.

Michael Crognale, director of cognitive and brain science with the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno, cautioned that changes in color vision can be a sign of significant medical problems, such as diabetes.

"If you notice changes in your color vision, and it's happening rapidly, that should be a warning flag for you to get your blood sugar tested and see an ophthalmologist about whether you've got retinal damage," Crognale said.

As for preventing loss of color vision due to aging, forget it. That's the word from Stephen Dain, who studies color vision as a professor with the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia. Deterioration of color vision is "as inevitable as death and taxes," he said.

The study appears in the March issue of the journal Optometry and Vision Science.


How to Make Meals More Enjoyable

So what can you do to counteract the loss of taste as you get older? First, check with your doctor to rule out any medical conditions that are causing you to lose your sense of taste. If it’s a medical condition, treatment may be available. If the loss of taste is due to normal aging, there really aren’t any known cures to reverse it, Gerbstadt says. But there are things you can do to keep it from interfering with your health or your enjoyment of life:

  1. Make meals social events. Eat with other seniors or at extended-family celebrations, potluck dinners, and community meals, Gerbstadt says. You’re more likely to eat well and get proper nutrition when you’re having a good time with family and friends. Shut-ins also can benefit from Meals-on-Wheels or other similar programs where friendly drivers with nutritious meals appear at their door.
  2. Watch the temperature. Food that is supposed to be hot tastes better when it actually is hot, and food that is supposed to be served cold tastes better when it is cold, says Jessica Crandall, RD, CDE, program director for Sodexo Wellness and Nutrition Services and an ADA spokeswoman. “To increase the taste, you may need to make your dishes a little warmer or a little colder,” she says.
  3. Use more herbs and spices.Herbs and spices will add flavor without increasing your blood pressure the way that salt does, Gerbstadt says. “There are hundreds available that will liven up any entrée or meal.” Crandall recommends basil for Italian foods cilantro for Mexican, Latin American, and Asian cuisine oregano for Italian and Greek cuisine and turmeric for Indian cuisine. Cooked vegetables such as beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnips, and winter squash can benefit from some caraway, and dill seeds are a great addition to rice and fish dishes. Another no- or low-sodium option is citrus juice, citrus zest, or flavored and aged vinegars, Gerbstadt says.
  4. Try something new. “When you try new foods and experiment with recipes, you create variety," Crandall says. "Variety can make meals more enticing and can build better nutrition into what you’re eating." Even seniors who are set in their ways can be tempted to try something new and nutritious if it contains ingredients they like.
  5. Savor your favorite meal. People very often have a particular time of day when they have a bigger appetite. For some, it’s right after they wake up, so breakfast is their main meal. For others, it’s later in the day, when they’re more alert but relaxed. Pay attention to what time of day you’re hungriest, and then make the most out of the meal that coincides with that time.

It’s harder to relish food when your senses aren’t working the way they used to. But by taking these steps and making eating fun and social, you can continue to look forward to mealtime and get the nutrition you need.


Smells Can Keep You Safe

It’s important to be aware of odors around you. You need to be able to detect smoke, gas leaks, spoiled food, and vapors from potentially dangerous household chemicals.

  • Smoke — check your smoke detectors once a year to make sure they work.
  • Gas leaks — make sure you have a gas detector in your home. — throw out food that’s been in the refrigerator too long.
  • Household chemicals — make sure there is fresh air where you live and work.

These safety measures are especially important if your sense of smell has diminished.


‘Brain fog,’ blurred vision and loss of taste: 85% of long-haulers who started with mild COVID-19 have 4 or more neurological symptoms, Northwestern study finds

In what is thought to be the first study of its kind, Northwestern doctors found high levels of neurological symptoms among patients who developed long-term COVID-19 symptoms after a relatively mild initial illness that did not require hospitalization.

Eighty-five percent of patients reported four or more neurological symptoms, problems such as “brain fog” (or attention and memory problems), loss of taste or smell, headache and blurred vision. In addition, patients experienced non-neurologic symptoms, such as fatigue (85%) and depression or anxiety (47%).

About half of patients in the study missed more than 10 days of work, due to what doctors call long COVID syndrome, or symptoms lasting more than six weeks.

“Long COVID syndrome affects probably millions of people in the world, and people have persistent (neurological) symptoms, and some have cognitive dysfunction that significantly impairs their quality of life,” said study co-author Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine.

COVID-19 will probably have a “serious impact” on the U.S. workforce, Koralnik said.

The study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, focused on 100 patients who sought care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s neuro-COVID-19 clinic between May and November 2020.

Eddie Palacios of Naperville, who was in the study, told the Tribune that after recovering from a relatively mild case of COVID in September, he experienced a surge of symptoms in October.

“It crushed me,” Palacios, 50, said of long COVID. “It just came at me like a hammer.”

His initial symptoms included short-term memory problems, a temporary stutter, intense headaches, and body aches that didn’t respond to standard medications.

The authors of the study found brain fog in 81% of the patients, headache in 68%, numbness or tingling in 60%, loss of taste in 59%, problems with smell in 55%, muscle pain in 55%, dizziness in 47%, blurred vision in 30% and ringing in the ears in 29%.

Patients experienced decreased quality of life, with some suffering from brain fog, headache and dizziness, and others from different constellations of symptoms.

“When everything you eat tastes like metal and everything you smell smells like bleach, your quality of life is altered in a completely different way,” Koralnik said.

The average age for the patients in the study was 43, younger than the average for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which is 55, Koralnik said.

People with long COVID syndrome are known as COVID long-haulers.

Interestingly, 70% of the patients were female, and 16% had a history of autoimmune disease. Those findings are consistent with the hypothesis that long COVID is an autoimmune problem. Immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis also disproportionately affect women.

Palacios said that he was able to work as a commercial real estate broker throughout his illness, with strategic naps and accommodations, such as writing down details that he once would have easily remembered. Medication has helped him with mental focus, and steroids alleviate his body aches.

Still, he said, he isn’t fully recovered in a week he plans to start a round of cognitive therapy.

“This is not a joke,” he said of long COVID. “This is not something that is going to go away that quickly.”

The pace of recovery varied widely in the study, with some patients reporting they were 95% recovered after two months, and others saying they were less than 10% recovered after nine months, Koralnik said.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is that people tend to improve over time,” he said. “But we can’t tell you the percent chance of 100% recovery at three months or six months.”


App Shows Promise in Tracking New Coronavirus Cases, Study Finds

The app, which allows people to record their symptoms, was remarkably effective in predicting infections. The most reliable indicators, researchers found, were loss of smell and taste.

In the absence of widespread on-demand testing, public health officials across the world have been struggling to track the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in real time. A team of scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom says a crowdsourcing smartphone app may be the answer to that quandary.

In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers found that an app that allows people to check off symptoms they are experiencing was remarkably effective in predicting coronavirus infections among the 2.5 million people who were using it between March 24 and April 21.

The study, which tracked people in the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden, found that the loss of taste and smell was the No. 1 predictor of whether a person was going to get sick with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, followed by extreme fatigue and acute muscle pain.

Using a mathematical model, the researchers were able to predict with nearly 80 percent accuracy whether a person was likely to have Covid-19 based on their age, sex and a combination of four symptoms: loss of taste or smell, persistent cough, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Two-thirds of those who later tested positive for the virus — about 15,000 people — had self-reported the loss of taste and smell, the study found. Fever and cough — symptoms that have been considered the most reliable indicators of infection — ranked fourth and fifth on the list.

“It’s just such a weird symptom that doesn’t occur with most other diseases so it’s rarely wrong,” said Dr. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and a lead author of the study.

Because loss of smell and taste is often associated with mild cases of Covid-19, Dr. Spector said health officials could act on information provided by a surveillance app to encourage participants to isolate themselves until they were able to get tested.

“The more we collect this stuff and the more we document it properly, the better we can deal with new outbreaks,” he said.

The researchers said they hoped the findings might persuade the World Health Organization and other health agencies to modify guidelines that currently rank fever and cough well above loss of taste and smell as symptoms for determining who to screen for Covid-19.

Dr. Andrew T. Chan, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the lead investigator on the study, said a surveillance app could help health authorities identify people at the early stage of the disease who are unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

“At the moment, we’re mostly gathering data on the tip of the iceberg from those who are really sick and show up at the hospital. But there is a huge iceberg below of people with mild symptoms who we know are major culprits for community spread,” said Dr. Chan, who is also chief of clinical and translational epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We have no ability to track these people at home and that’s a real problem.”

If more widely adopted, the app could provide public health authorities an inexpensive tool for detecting outbreaks in cities, states and even individual neighborhoods. Given that the loss of taste and smell appears to be an early indicator of Covid-19, the information, the researchers said, would allow health officials to prepare for a spike of infections and help guide the allocation of scarce resources like ventilators for the most seriously ill, and the personal protective gear needed by medical workers.

As local outbreaks subside, the app can also guide decisions about the easing of lockdowns and social distancing measures.

The researchers said the app did not prompt significant privacy concerns because participants are not required to provide their names and any other personal information, only their ZIP codes.

John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, said the study added to the growing body of evidence that highlights the value of smartphone apps as real-time disease surveillance tools. Dr. Brownstein, who was not involved in the coronavirus app study, has a decade of experience using crowdsource symptom apps, starting with an influenza app called Flu Near You, and more recently, Covid Near You, an app that has already drawn more than 600,000 users in the United States.

Surveillance apps, he said, can detect an outbreak well before people begin showing up at hospitals. “Because we have such a lack of testing, this kind of data is going to give us insights into symptomatology, hot spots and the impact of social distancing,” he said. “Without this information, how are communities supposed to know we’re on the other side of this pandemic and whether we can reopen?”

But crowdsourcing apps do not provide a complete snapshot of the coronavirus pandemic. Because users tend to be younger, they are less than ideal for charting its progression among the elderly.

And they are also not a replacement for testing, which is the most effective means for tracking the spread of the disease. The data can also be muddled by people who report symptoms shared by other illnesses.

“It’s a sort of real-time experiment done on a massive scale that couldn’t have been done a couple of years ago,” Dr. Spector said.

The app he helped develop piggybacks on technology that King’s College London has been using to track health outcomes among 14,000 twins in the United Kingdom. When the coronavirus outbreak temporarily idled the project, Dr. Spector realized their app could be easily repurposed to track the pandemic.

“It was a crazy idea, but four days later we launched the app and it went viral,” he said. Within three days, more than a million people had downloaded the app, a number that has since grown to 3.3 million.

Dr. Cristina Menni, a research fellow at King’s College and another lead author of the study, said the researchers continued to refine the app. Among their goals is finding a way to gauge whether pre-existing conditions or genetic factors might magnify the health risks for people infected with the virus.

But for now, she said, crowdsourcing apps may be a useful public health tool to help contain the pandemic.

“Because there hasn’t been widespread testing, monitoring for symptoms of the coronavirus is a very cheap and simple way of doing it,” she said. “At the very least, anyone who reports a loss of taste and smell should self-isolate until they can get tested.”


Just 18% Of People With Covid Symptoms Use Test And Trace, New Study Finds

Fewer than one in five people requested a Covid-19 test if they had symptoms, according to a large study of the Test and Trace system.

Experts found that over the past year only half of people could identify the main coronavirus symptoms, which include a cough, high temperature and loss of taste or smell, the BMJ reports.

Just 18% of those with symptoms said they had requested a test, while only 43% with symptoms in the previous seven days adhered to full self-isolation.

Labour seized on the research to urge ministers to do more to fix Test and Trace, run by Tory peer Dido Harding, and to provide greater financial support for those who can&rsquot afford to self isolate for 10 days.

But the government pointed to survey data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last week that showed that 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are now fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rule.

The BMJ reported that the study, which included work by the Public Health England (PHE) behavioural science team at Porton Down in Wiltshire, was based on 74,697 responses to online surveys from 53,880 people aged 16 or older living in the UK.

The research covered 37 survey &ldquowaves&rdquo carried out from March 2 last year to January 27 this year, with about 2,000 participants in each wave.

The results showed that only 52% of people could identify the main symptoms of Covid-19, and this did not really improve as time went on.

Across all waves, 43% of people adhered to rules around self-isolation, though this improved in January to 52%.

Men, younger people and those with young children were less likely to self-isolate, as were those from more working-class backgrounds, people experiencing greater financial hardship, and those working in key sectors.

Common reasons for not fully self-isolating included to go to the shops or work, for a medical need other than Covid-19, to care for a vulnerable person, to exercise or meet others, or because symptoms were only mild or got better.

Just 18% of people requested a Covid test if they had experienced symptoms in the previous seven days, despite around three times as many saying they intended to do so if they developed signs of coronavirus.

Intention to share details of close contacts with NHS Test and Trace was 79%, the study found, but there was some hesitancy around whether data was secure and confidential, and whether the contact tracing system was accurate and reliable.

The experts, including from King&rsquos College London, said: &ldquoWith such low rates for symptom recognition, testing, and full self-isolation, the effectiveness of the current form of the UK&rsquos test, trace, and isolate system is limited.&rdquo

The team concluded: &ldquoLevels of adherence to test, trace, and isolate are low, although some improvement has occurred over time.

&ldquoPractical support and financial reimbursement are likely to improve adherence.

&ldquoTargeting messaging and policies to men, younger age groups, and key workers might also be necessary&rdquo.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders told HuffPost UK: &ldquoThis is yet another damning indictment of the way test and trace has been run during the Covid crisis.

&ldquoGiven the tsunami of evidence presented about the financial difficulties people face when self isolating it is becoming increasingly perplexing as to why the government fail to address this properly when it could have a significant impact on reducing transmission.

&ldquoWhen we finally have the inquiry into why we have had one of the highest death tolls in the world they will need to answer why they have repeatedly ignored the warnings on test and trace.&rdquo

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: &ldquoSince last May, NHS Test and Trace has contacted 3.2 million people who tested positive, and another 6.4 million of their contacts.

&ldquoBehind these numbers are countless lives saved and the latest ONS statistics show that when people are asked to self-isolate, the overwhelming majority do so.

&ldquoIt is vital that people continue to do their bit by isolating when they are asked to. As the prevalence of coronavirus falls, our testing and tracing system becomes more important in identifying and suppressing local outbreaks while also responding rapidly to the threat of new variants.&rdquo

In March, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee said the impact of NHS Test and Trace is still unclear, despite the UK government setting aside £37 billion for it over two years.

Its report criticised an over-reliance on consultants, with some paid more than £6,600 a day.

It also questioned a failure to be ready for a surge in demand for tests last September, and NHS Test and Trace not meeting its target to turn around face-to-face tests within 24 hours.

A study from the National Audit Office (NAO) in December also criticised the scheme, saying it had not yet achieved its objectives.

The NAO said it was &ldquovery important that testing and tracing is able to make a bigger contribution to suppressing the infection than it has to date&rdquo.


Study: COVID-19 Can Kill Months After Infection

April 23, 2021 -- Long-haul COVID-19 patients face many health threats -- including a higher chance of dying -- up to 6 months after they catch the virus, according to a massive study published in the journal Nature.

A second study, released by the CDC on Friday, also found lingering symptoms months later among COVID-19 patients who originally had mild symptoms.

For the Nature study, researchers examined more than 87,000 COVID-19 patients and nearly 5 million control patients in a federal database. They found COVID-19 patients had a 59% higher risk of death up to 6 months after infection, compared to non-infected people.

Those findings translate into about eight extra deaths per 1,000 patients over 6 months, because many deaths caused by long-term COVID complications are not recorded as COVID-19 deaths, the researchers said. Among patients who were hospitalized and died after more than 30 days, there were 29 excess deaths per 1,000 patients over 6 months.

“As far as total pandemic death toll, these numbers suggest that the deaths we’re counting due to the immediate viral infection are only the tip of the iceberg,” Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, the senior author of the study and a director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, said in a news release from Washington University in St. Louis.

Johns Hopkins University says more than 3 million people worldwide and about 570,000 people in the United States have died of coronavirus-related reasons.

Long-haul COVID patients also had a much higher chance of getting sick, and not just in the respiratory system, according to the study.

A @WUSTLmed study finds even mild cases of COVID-19 increase risk of death in the 6 months following diagnosis. The comprehensive study also catalogues wide-ranging, long-term health problems often triggered by the infection--even those not hospitalized. https://t.co/fmfd3QY2Ka

— WUSTLnews (@WUSTLnews) April 23, 2021

The patients had a high rate of stroke and other nervous system ailments mental health problems such as depression the onset of diabetes heart disease and other coronary problems diarrhea and digestive disorders kidney disease blood clots joint pain hair loss and general fatigue.

Patients often had clusters of these ailments. And the more severe the case of COVID-19, the higher the chance of long-term health problems, the study said.

Researchers based their study on health care databases of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Besides the 87,000 COVID patients, the database included about 5 million patients who didn’t catch COVID. The veterans in the study were about 88% men, but the large sample size included 8,880 women with confirmed cases, the news release said.

Al-Aly, an assistant professor at Washington University Medical School, said the study shows that long-haul COVID-19 could be “America’s next big health crisis.”

“Our study demonstrates that up to 6 months after diagnosis, the risk of death following even a mild case of COVID-19 is not trivial and increases with disease severity,” he said. “Given that more than 30 million Americans have been infected with this virus, and given that the burden of long COVID-19 is substantial, the lingering effects of this disease will reverberate for many years and even decades.”

Meanwhile, the CDC on Friday released a new study of people who had milder cases of COVID-19. It found that almost two-thirds of them returned to the doctor within 6 months of their initial infections with new symptoms.

The study validates the accounts of many COVID-19 long haulers who say they are still sick months later though their initial infections were mild.

More than 3,100 cases were reviewed for the study. None of the patients had been hospitalized for their initial infections. The study found that nearly 70%, or 2,100 people, with mild infections treated by the Kaiser Permanente health system in Georgia returned to the doctor 1 to 6 months after that initial diagnosis, and nearly 40% needed to see a specialist.

Compared to people who didn’t return to the doctor after recovering from their initial infections, the long haulers were more likely to be African American, women, and people over the age of 50. About 10% of them were given a second diagnosis of an active COVID infection.

“Health care providers used the diagnosis of active infection to indicate that the effects of COVID-19 were affecting medical care at the time of the visit,” study author Alfonso Hernandez-Romieu, MD, said in an email. “Therefore it cannot be determined whether patients might have been experiencing symptoms of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, rather than ongoing COVID-19 symptoms,” said Hernandez-Romieu, who is part of the clinical team at CDC studying the long-term complications of COVID-19.

Pulmonologists, cardiologists, neurologists, and mental health professionals were some of the most frequently consulted specialties.

The study authors say doctors should be aware that patients coming to them might have new symptoms related to a past COVID diagnosis.

Sources

Nature: “High-dimensional characterization of post-acute sequalae of COVID-19.”

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: “Among COVID-19 survivors, an increased risk of death, serious illness.”


Ongoing, and in some cases debilitating, problems with thinking affect a large majority of Covid-19 patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

The research, from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, is based on an analysis of 100 Covid-19 "long-hauler" patients whose symptoms have lasted at least six weeks. All originally had a mild illness: sore throat, cough, low-grade fever.

But after the acute infection cleared, 85 percent reported at least four lasting neurological problems that have affected their daily lives.

By far, the most commonly reported symptom was "brain fog," with 81 percent of respondents reporting ongoing issues with memory and thinking.

Sixty-eight percent said they had headaches, and more than half said they had problems with loss of taste and smell, numbness or tingling, and muscle pain.

Most were women, with an average age of 43. Less common symptoms included dizziness, blurred vision and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Symptoms tended to come and go over a period of months. Most patients improve over time, but not all. Just 64 percent said they felt better after five months, but the vast majority still reported "intense fatigue."

Patients "also had some respiratory problems, despite the fact they never had pneumonia or were hospitalized for low oxygen levels," said Dr. Igor Koralnik, a study author and chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine. Koralnik also oversees the facility's post-Covid clinic.

Related

Health Treating the long-haulers: Inside clinics trying to understand debilitating Covid effects

While this study was small, it illustrates what millions of people may be facing in the coming months. Of the more than 30 million Americans diagnosed with Covid-19, it's estimated that up to 30 percent could experience long-term symptoms. That's as many as 10 million people.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

And a review of research published Monday found that long-term Covid-19 has the ability to affect many organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, kidneys and skin, as well as the gastrointestinal, nervous and endocrine systems.

Before their Covid-19 long-haul symptoms, 42 percent of the respondents had reported depression or anxiety, and 16 percent reported having had an autoimmune disease.

"We want to understand the most effective interventions for these patients," Koralnik said. "We're trying to devise the best ways to manage and treat these patients, but further research is necessary."

Erika Edwards is a health and medical news writer and reporter for NBC News and "TODAY."