Long Covid and ME CFS symptom overlaps

Research: Long Covid and ME/CFS – Symptom overlaps

This is an important paper from a research group in Spain who have compared symptom profiles in 73 people with Long Covid and 42 with ME/CFS

Not surprisingly, there is a great deal of overlap – as the MEA has been pointing out since May 2020 – and they found greater impairment in those with ME/CFS

Good to see that the MEA information on Long Covid and ME/CFS is referenced

ABSTRACT

Background
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is characterized by persistent physical and mental fatigue. The post-COVID-19 condition patients refer physical fatigue and cognitive impairment sequelae. Given the similarity between both conditions, could it be the same pathology with a different precipitating factor?

Objective
To describe the cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and general symptomatology in both groups, to find out if it is the same pathology. As well as verify if the affectation of smell is related to cognitive deterioration in patients with post-COVID-19 condition.

Methods
The sample included 42 ME/CFS and 73 post-COVID-19 condition patients. Fatigue, sleep quality, anxiety and depressive symptoms, the frequency and severity of different symptoms, olfactory function and a wide range of cognitive domains were evaluated.

Results
Both syndromes are characterized by excessive physical fatigue, sleep problems and myalgia. Sustained attention and processing speed were impaired in 83.3% and 52.4% of ME/CFS patients while in post-COVID-19 condition were impaired in 56.2% and 41.4% of patients, respectively. Statistically significant differences were found in sustained attention and visuospatial ability, being the ME/CFS group who presented the worst performance. Physical problems and mood issues were the main variables correlating with cognitive performance in post-COVID-19 patients, while in ME/CFS it was anxiety symptoms and physical fatigue.

Conclusions
The symptomatology and cognitive patterns were similar in both groups, with greater impairment in ME/CFS. This disease is characterized by greater physical and neuropsychiatric problems compared to post-COVID-19 condition. Likewise, we also propose the relevance of prolonged hyposmia as a possible marker of cognitive deterioration in patients with post-COVID-19.

Full paper is open access and a pdf can be downloaded

See the MEA booklet on the similarities between Long Covid and ME/CFS

This is a review of the important clinical and pathological overlaps that occur between Long Covid and ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) that also examines how both conditions should be managed effectively.

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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