As the coronavirus pandemic raged on and millions of people across the world became infected with the virus, it became clear that for some people, the symptoms of COVID did not abate after a few weeks. Rather, these individuals experienced a variety of symptoms for months after their initial diagnosis, a phenomenon that was soon dubbed long COVID.
Additionally, it seemed like women had a heightened risk of experiencing long COVID than men. This is despite the fact that previous research had shown men’s immune systems to be weaker against the coronavirus compared to women.
Researchers looking into the prevalence of long-term COVID-19 symptoms recently reported that women are indeed more likely to develop long-COVID when compared to their male counterparts. They found that this difference is because of, not in spite of, women’s stronger immune responses to the coronavirus. Women are also more likely to experience a different range of symptoms.
In their report, the study authors stated that key differences in immune system functions could be the key driver between these differences, adding that female immune systems had more rapid and robust adaptive and innate immune responses in comparison to those of males.
Although this stronger response makes it easier for women to fight off the initial infection and reduce the severity of the symptoms, it makes them more vulnerable to long-term autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune diseases are conditions that cause the immune system to malfunction and attack the body. Think of a trusted and well-taken-care-of dog that has now gone rogue and attacked its owner.
For their study, the investigators analyzed 35 different studies on long COVID hoping to spot any differences in how the condition affected men and women. They found that while men were more likely to suffer from kidney disease and endocrine disorders such as diabetes, women were more likely to experience gastrointestinal, rheumatological, neurological, mood, skin, ear, nose and throat disorders. Women were also most likely to experience fatigue, chest pain and trouble swallowing. An April study found that women are 33% less likely to recover from long COVID compared to men.
Dr. Linda Geng, Stanford post-acute COVID-19 syndrome clinic codirector, noted that the study’s findings could help physicians understand the underlying pathophysiology of long Covid. In addition to pointing out the immune differences that may make women more prone to suffer from long COVID, she added, the study also proposed exploring whether endocrine factors or hormonal differences could be to blame.
These clinical complications resulting from how the immune systems of different people respond to the same threats is an area of focus for entities such as AREV Life Sciences Global Corp. (CSE: AREV) (OTC: AREVF), which would like to find remedies that help patients recover fully from viral infections.
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