(KIAH) — Long COVID is a condition where patients have lingering symptoms for at least four weeks after they no longer test positive. Infection specialists said symptoms can vary from fatigue, difficulty breathing, headaches, brain, joint and muscle pain and continued loss of taste and smell.

Two new studies – one based on information from adult patients and the second looking at data from children – by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that roughly 1 million children had long COVD, with another 250,000 reporting they still had symptoms. In the other report, women were nearly twice as likely to suffer from the condition.

The numbers for adults suffering from long COVID

  • The percentage of adults who ever had Long COVID was higher among women (8.5%) compared to men (5.2%). 
  • Women (4.4%) were also more likely than men (2.3%) to currently have Long COVID.
  • Adults aged 35‒49 (8.9%) were more likely than adults ages 18‒34 (6.9%), 50‒64 (7.6%), and 65 and older (4.1%) to ever have Long COVID.
  • Asian non-Hispanic adults (2.6%) were less likely than Black, non-Hispanic (5.4%); White, non-Hispanic (7.1%); and Hispanic (8.3%) adults to ever have Long COVID.
  • Adults with family incomes at 400% or more of the federal poverty level were less likely than those with family incomes at 200%‒399% of the federal poverty level to have ever had or currently have Long COVID.

The numbers for children suffering from long COVID

  • In 2022, 1.3% of children ever had Long COVID, and 0.5% of children had Long COVID at the time of the interview (currently have Long COVID).
  • Girls (1.6%) were more likely than boys (0.9%) to have ever had Long COVID.
  • Children ages 12‒17 years were more likely than those ages 0‒5 years and those ages 6‒11 years to have ever had or currently have Long COVID.
  • Hispanic children (1.9%) were more likely than Asian, non-Hispanic (0.2%) and Black, non-Hispanic children (0.6%) to have ever had Long COVID.

What the experts say about the why of long COVID

Why is it that some people struggle with covid longer than others? Infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Santella:

“After the infection has cleared, there are a number of hypotheses that researchers are testing. But the most common ones we are hearing about is about the inflammation that the infection causes and how we, as individuals, deal with that inflammation weeks and months after the infection has cleared.”