The study, published in the journal ‘The Lancet Digital Health’, carried out by researchers at King’s College, London, using data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, looked at 19 symptoms, including the most common, such as persistent cough and loss of smell, in addition to of abdominal pain and blisters in the feet.
According to the findings, people over 60 years old, the loss of smell was not significant and not at all relevant in people over 80 years old. But these older age groups were more likely to suffer from diarrhea.
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For those aged between 40 and 59, a persistent cough had a greater relevance for detecting COVID-19 and chills or chills had a lower relevance compared to individuals aged 80 years or older. Chest pain, unusual muscle pain, shortness of breath and loss of smell were the most relevant characteristics for people aged 60 to 70 years.
In gender variations, men were more likely to report shortness of breath, fatigue, chills and fever. Women were more likely to report loss of smell, chest pain and persistent cough.
“It’s important for people to know that early symptoms are wide-ranging and can look different for each member of the family,” said Claire Steves, an author at King’s College London.
“Test guidelines can be updated to allow cases to be detected earlier, especially in the face of new variants that are highly transmissible. This could include the use of widely available lateral flow tests for people with any of these non-essential symptoms,” she said.
The study’s interpretation concludes that early detection based on this model is crucial to contain the spread of COVID-19 and efficiently allocate medical resources.
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