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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 joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.