Long-Term Effects: Research Uncovers Persistent Symptoms from Influenza Infections

The findings from a recent investigation, disclosed in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggest that the flu virus might play a role in causing enduring and incapacitating health problems, resembling the prolonged consequences observed in cases of long Covid. 

This research disrupts the conventional perception of viral illnesses as brief incidents with no enduring consequences, initiating a reassessment of the strategies employed by healthcare professionals in addressing recovery from viral infections.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the esteemed senior study author and Chief of Research and Development at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, provided insight on the known change in outlook triggered by the ongoing Covid pandemic. 

Viral infections are now recognized as events requiring attention beyond the acute phase, prompting questions about full recovery and long-term health impacts.

The study examined data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, focusing on 81,280 veterans hospitalized with Covid from March 2020 to June 2022 and 10,985 hospitalized with the flu from October 2015 to February 2019. 

Both groups, predominantly older men, exhibited increased risks of death, hospital readmission, and organ-related health problems in the 18 months following infection.

Covid patients were more likely to experience lasting multi-organic problems, while flu patients primarily faced lingering symptoms related to the lungs. 

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Long-Term Impact of Viral Infections Explored

long-term-effects-research-uncovers-persistent-symptoms-from-influenza-infections
The findings from a recent investigation, disclosed in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggest that the flu virus might play a role in causing enduring and incapacitating health problems, resembling the prolonged consequences observed in cases of long Covid.

These symptoms ranged from persistent coughs to severe Inflammation and scarring, leading to shortness of breath in the lungs.

The severity of illness caused by Covid, including higher rates of death, hospital readmission, and adverse effects on multiple organ systems, surpassed that associated with the flu. 

However, the applicability of these findings to the general population remains uncertain, as the study primarily included older men requiring hospitalization.

The study adds weight to the notion that viral infections can lead to long-lasting syndromes of symptoms, challenging the assumption that these illnesses have only short-term consequences. 

Dr. Todd Rice, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, emphasized that various respiratory viruses, not just Covid, can induce lingering symptoms affecting different organ systems.

While the study underscores the gravity of post-viral syndromes, there is currently no cure, and the mechanisms triggering severe health problems and their persistence remain unclear. 

Dr. Anita Gupta of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine believes ongoing research will eventually unravel these mysteries.

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