Women may think they have long Covid when they are actually going through the menopause, experts believe. Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph’s Science Editor, has more.
In a recent survey of long Covid sufferers, led by the University of Southampton, the average age of people replying was 46.5 while 82.5% were women.
Symptoms of the condition are vague and overlap considerably with those experienced by women during perimenopause and menopause, such as fatigue, muscle aches, brain fog and difficult sleeping.
Dr. Louise Newson, the founder of Newson Health Research and Education, said: “There is no diagnostic test for long Covid and the symptoms are often very similar to menopause, brain fogs, reduce stamina, tiredness and joint pains.
“Many women who complain of Long Covid are in their mid- to late-40s, so it seems common sense to look at the obvious things first, like whether they are actually experiencing menopause.
“I am not saying that long Covid isn’t a thing, but women should be screened and treated with hormone replacement therapy. I’d be very happy to be proved wrong if none of them feel better after HRT. But at the moment, nobody is looking at this is a possibility.”
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), about 2.1 million people are suffering symptoms of long Covid in Britain – roughly 3.3% of the population.
Symptoms included in the ONS surveys are fever, headache, muscle ache, weakness/tiredness, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and loss of smell. They must be present at least four weeks after a Covid infection.
However, the ONS pointed out that such conditions are experienced regularly within the general population. It found that the prevalence of self-reported long Covid was greatest in females, and people aged 35 to 69.
Figures released in December show that 1,265,000 women were suffering long Covid symptoms in Britain, compared with 916,000 men – equating to about 38% more women than men.
The largest global study to date on long Covid – by Johnson & Johnson, which analysed research on 1.3 million people – found that women are 22% more likely than men to report ongoing symptoms, with the chance increasing with age.
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