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People with COVID-19 seek more medical help, even 6 months after infection

Up to six months after infection, more than 70% of COVID-19 patients still have at least one symptom, but health care systems concentrate resources on treating the initial disease, not its aftereffects.

New research in the journal JAMA Network Open examines post-COVID-19 demands on U.S. health care.

A study of 127,000 patients across eight large integrated health care systems early in the pandemic shows higher health care use by people with COVID-19 continued up to six months after infection.

Most notably, patients were twice as likely to seek help for hair loss, bronchitis, blood clots in the lungs or deep veins, or breathing difficulties.

Visits for breathing and circulation problems tended to wane after three months, whereas sleep, skin, muscle and nerve disorders worsened over time.

In light of these findings, the authors recommend health care systems consider long-term resource allocation in their COVID-19 response plans.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.