According to a new study, veterans who were hospitalized with COVID-19 or long-term flu had an increased risk of certain conditions. The research published in The Lance also mentions that people hospitalized for COVID-19 or seasonal flu had an increased risk of death and developing health problems in the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. This article examines the long-term effect of flu on your health.
What Prompted the Research?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, extensive research has detailed the virus’s ability to attack multiple organ systems, potentially resulting in long-term COVID-19. Researchers said the virus taught them that an infection initially believed to cause brief illness could also lead to chronic disease. They also said that the research was conducted to determine whether and to what degree people with flu could experience long-term effects.
How Was The Study Conducted?
Researchers used records from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to compare the long-term health outcomes of 11,000 people hospitalized with influenza from 2015 to 2019 with those of 81,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 from 2020 to 2022.
The study revealed that individuals with COVID-19 had a 50 percent higher death risk than those with the flu, translating to 8 more deaths per 100 people in the COVID-19 group compared with the flu group.
The COVID-19 group also experienced an increased risk of hospital readmission and admission into an intensive care unit (ICU). For every 100 people in each group, there were 20 more hospital admissions and nine more ICU admissions in COVID-19 than flu.
However, the authors noted the study had limitations. For instance, it focused only on people hospitalized for COVID and flu and didn’t include a control group of people without either infection. The VA data was also heavily filled with information on older male patients, so there are questions on how health burdens affect people of other ages and sexes.
How Important Is This Study?
Researchers believe this study highlights the importance of prevention and treatment. They also said people need to be aware that there’s treatment for people who get sick and that taking treatment after diagnosis is important.
The researchers also pointed out that Paxlovid is used for treating COVID-19 and reducing the risk of long-term outcomes. In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a real-world study showing that adults who took Paxlovid within five days of a COVID-19 diagnosis had a 51% lower hospitalization rate within 30 days than those who didn’t use the medication.
A recent study shows that long-term flu could result in chronic disease and potentially death. While more research is needed, you can prevent this negative outcome by getting adequate treatment once you are diagnosed.