Younger adults admitted to hospital with Covid are almost as likely to suffer from complications as those over 50 years old, a study has found.
Four in 10 of these between 19 and 49 developed problems with their kidneys, lungs, or other organs while treated.
The research checked out 73,197 adults of all ages across 302 UK hospitals within the first wave of Covid in 2020.
“The message is that this is often not just a disease of the elderly and frail,” said Prof Calum Semple, who led the work.
“The data reinforces the very fact that Covid isn’t flu and that we are seeing even young adults coming into hospital suffering significant complications, a number of which can require furthering monitoring and potentially further treatment within the future.”
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The study, conducted by researchers at seven UK universities, the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, checked out the amount of “complications” in those needing hospital treatment for Covid-19, defined as an organ-specific diagnosis.
Overall, around half of all adult patients suffered a least one complication during their hospital stay. the foremost common was a kidney injury, followed by lung and heart damage.
The highest rates were in those over 50 years old, with 51% reporting a minimum of one problem. But they were also “very common” in younger age groups. Some 37% of 30 to 39-year-olds and 44% of 40 to 49-year-olds had a minimum of one complication recorded by nurses and medical students involved within the study.
Doctors aren’t yet certain how a severe Covid illness can cause organ damage, but it’s thought in some cases the body’s own system can spark an inflammatory response and injure healthy tissue.
Paul Godfrey, from Frinton in Essex, developed Covid in March 2020 after suffering what he thought was a chest infection.
Paul, who was 31 at the time of diagnosis and has the lung condition bronchiectasis, said: “There’s little question about it – the NHS staff who cared on behalf of me saved my life. i might not be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
The study, published within the medical journal the Lancet, found that those with pre-existing conditions were more likely to report complications but the danger was high even in young, previously healthy individuals.
‘Worst experience of my life’
Paul was diagnosed with pneumonia in Colchester hospital and was told the rock bottom half of both his lungs had collapsed. He narrowly avoided being placed in an induced coma and spent a fortnight on a Covid ward before he was allowed range in a wheelchair.
The research showed that 13% of 19 to 29-year-olds and 17% of 30 to 39-year-olds hospitalized with Covid were unable to seem after themselves at discharge and had to believe friends and family.
“It was the worst experience of my life and that I am still handling it 18 months later,” said Paul, who continues to suffer from extreme fatigue and breathlessness caused by his illness.
“I don’t really know what the damage is to my body so I’m just praying I buy back to what I used to be .”
Age is that the single largest thing about determining a severe Covid infection.
Of the 406,687 people taken to hospital with the disease in England since the beginning of the pandemic, 62% were over the age of 65.
That leaves another 155,866 under the age of 65 who have needed hospital treatment since February 2020.
Higher vaccination rates within the elderly and vulnerable population mean that the typical age of those hospitalized with the disease has been falling.
In the week ending 4 July, there have been just 17 people over 85 years old admitted to hospital with Covid in England, compared with 478 aged between 25 and 44.
The research was conducted within the first wave of the pandemic between 17 January and 4 August 2020 – before vaccines were available and new variants of the virus had been detected.
The authors said the info suggested those with more severe Covid symptoms at admission to the hospital were more likely to suffer serious health problems, showing the importance of vaccines in reducing the severity of the disease during this latest wave.
The study was only designed to seem at short-term complications during a hospital stay but there’s evidence some organ damage can persist, becoming a sort of what’s referred to as long Covid.
“We do know from other infectious diseases that these kinds of problems together with your kidneys or heart can become longer-term complications,” said Dr. Annemarie Docherty, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and a consultant in medical care medicine.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect that this might be an equivalent with Covid-19.