TUESDAY, June 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Women are much more likely than men to suffer from long COVID, according to a large new research review.
The review, published June 21 in the journal Current medical research and opinion, included 1.3 million patients and found that women were 22% more likely to develop persistent symptoms after COVID infection.
For women, persistent symptoms after COVID infection included fatigue; ear, nose and throat problems; as well as mood disorders such as depression. They also had respiratory symptoms and neurological, skin, gastrointestinal and rheumatic disorders.
In contrast, men with long COVID were more likely to have endocrine disorders, including diabetes and kidney problems.
“Knowledge of the fundamental gender differences underlying the clinical manifestations, disease progression, and health outcomes of COVID-19 is crucial for the identification and rational design of effective therapies and interventions for public health services that are inclusive and sensitive to the potential differential treatment needs of both genders,” the authors said in a press release.
Led by Shirley Sylvester, senior medical director for women’s health at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ, the researchers noted that differences in how men’s and women’s immune systems work could be an important factor.
“Women develop faster and more robust innate and adaptive immune responses, which may protect them from initial infection and severity,” Sylvester and colleagues wrote. “However, this same difference may make women more vulnerable to prolonged autoimmune disease.”
The review included data from articles published between December 2019 and June 2021. In total, only 35 of more than 640,600 articles disaggregated data by sex with enough detail about symptoms to effectively compare differences in how both men and women react to the disease. Other more recent studies have addressed this issue.
Other studies have looked at gender differences in hospitalization, ICU admission, ventilator support, and death rates. But the researchers said the symptoms and long-term damage to the body have not been studied enough by gender.
“Gender differences in outcomes have been reported in previous coronavirus outbreaks,” the researchers said. “Therefore, differences in outcomes between women and men infected with SARS-CoV-2 could have been anticipated. Unfortunately, most studies did not assess or report granular data by gender, which limited gender-specific clinical information that could impact treatment.
The authors said sex-disaggregated data should be made available even if it was not the main objective of a study, as the information could be useful to others. Analyzing this information is key to dealing with disparate disease outcomes, they said.
The researchers noted that women in professions such as nursing and education may be at greater risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. There may also be gender-based differences in access to care that could affect treatment and lead to more complications.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.
THE SOURCE: Current medical research and opinionpress release, June 21, 2022
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