Health & Fitness

One in five Covid survivors experienced hair loss, cohort study finds

One in five people hospitalised with Covid-19 experienced hair loss within six months of first being infected with the virus, a cohort study of patients found.

A team of Chinese experts looking into the long-term health consequences of the disease surveyed patients who had been discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan last year.

Of the 1,655 people who took part 359 – or 22 per cent – reported losing hair.

Fatigue or muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, smell disorder, anxiety and depression were some of the other most commonly reported symptoms, with a higher percentage of these reported among women.

The long-term consequences of Covid-19 after six months remained “largely unclear”, the study concluded.

Hair loss can be caused by a medical condition such as alopecia or another illness, as well as stress, according to the NHS. The NHS does not list hair loss as a Covid-19 symptom.

The USA’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists hair loss as a symptom reported by Covid-19 patients. The CDC said it will “continue active investigation and provide updates as new data emerge”.

The Wuhan study, published in The Lancet Journal in January, looked at laboratory-confirmed Covid patients who had been discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital between 7 January and 29 May 2020.

In total, 2,469 Covid patients were discharged from the hospital in that five-month period.

Participants filled in a questionnaire that asked them what symptoms they had been experiencing before leaving hospital. They completed a follow-up survey six months later between June and September 2020.

Those who could not be contacted for the follow-up or were unable to do it because of medical reasons were excluded. Some 1,655 completed both parts.

They were given a questionnaire to evaluate their quality of life by assessment of five factors including mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression.

Participants also underwent a physical examination, a six-minute walking test and a blood test.

“At six months after acute infection, Covid survivors were mainly troubled with fatigue or muscle weakness, sleep difficulties, and anxiety or depression,” the study’s authors wrote.

“Patients who were more severely ill during their hospital stay had more severe impaired pulmonary diffusion capacities and abnormal chest imaging manifestations, and are the main target population for intervention of long-term recovery.”

More than three quarters (76 per cent) said they had at least one symptom six months after testing positive for Covid. Just under two-thirds (63 per cent) reported fatigue or muscle weakness.

Some 25 per cent said they had dealt with anxiety or depression.

Just over one quarter (26 per cent) said they had trouble sleeping, 22 per cent experiencing hair loss and 11 per cent had smelling disorders.

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