Image of younger woman comforting an older woman

Women are much more likely to experience long-term health effects related to COVID-19 than men, while men are more commonly affected by kidney problems and diabetes after recovery, according to a new review of studies.

The researchers analyzed pandemic-era studies published up to June 2021. They looked for associations between sex and short- and long-term health problems.

Females were “significantly” more likely to develop short-term problems in the four weeks or less after their COVID-19 symptoms start, they found. These included psychiatric and/or mood, musculoskeletal and respiratory problems. 

What’s more, recovered female patients also had greater odds of experiencing long COVID, with health issues lasting more than four weeks. These patients were more likely to develop ear, nose and throat problems, psychiatric and/or mood issues, and neurological, skin and other disorders, reported Shirley V. Sylvester and colleagues from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer Health of Women Team.  

But certain short- and long-COVID symptoms were more likely to appear in men. These included kidney problems in the short term, and and kidney issues or endocrine problems such as diabetes in the longer term.

Long COVID in seniors

In seniors, long COVID symptoms may be mistaken for signs of aging, according to another recent study. Common signs of long COVID are shortness of breath, an elevated heart rate and muscle and joint pain. But seniors with the condition may have nonspecific symptoms such as changes in cognition, sleep patterns or concentration. They may also exhibit fatigue, weakness, pain, confusion and increased frailty.

Full findings for the current study were published in the journal Current Medical Research & Opinion.

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