"Imbalance in the microbiome contributes to the severity of COVID-19, and if it persists after viral clearance, could contribute to persistent symptoms and multi-system inflammation syndromes like long COVID syndrome", said lead researcher Dr. Siew Ng, a professor from the Institute of Digestive Disease at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"At six months after acute infection, COVID-19 survivors were mainly troubled with fatigue or muscle weakness, sleep difficulties, and anxiety or depression", the report said.
"Based on several patients surveyed in this study for up to 30 days after clearing SARS-CoV-2, the gut microbiota is likely to remain significantly altered after recovery from COVID-19".
Medical experts have known for months that some COVID-19 patients could have lingering symptoms.
The coronavirus also has made a noticeable impact on patients' lung and kidney function. Patients who were severely ill had reduced lung function, with 56 per cent of them requiring ventilation support.
The researchers stated that the findings from the study highlight the need for ongoing care among patients who have had severe Covid-19 infections and conducting longer follow-up studies.
For the study, the researchers studied blood and stool samples from 100 patients with COVID-19 and from 78 people without the infection who were part of a microbiome study before the pandemic began. Moreover, a follow-up study was conducted with the patients between June and September 2020. The discharged patients also underwent physical examinations, lab tests, and a six-minute walking test to gauge their endurance levels. The medium time of the patients' recovery since they had shown infections is roughly six months.
Patients involved in the study had a median age of 57 years old and 52 percent were men.
Other symptoms are also reported, such as hair loss (22 percent), smell disorder (11 percent), palpitations (9 percent), joint pain (9 percent), decreased appetite (8 percent) and taste disorder (7 percent). Its objective was to describe the long-term health consequences of patients with COVID who have been discharged from hospitals and investigate the associated risk factors.