How Your Gut Might Affect “Long COVID” Risk
The collection of bacteria and other microbes found in your digestive tract — collectively known as your gut microbiome — appears to play an integral role in human physiology. From obesity to mental health, the delicate balance of microbes in this community may influence your risk of developing many conditions. Now, research suggests that the gut microbiome may also affect the likelihood of developing so-called “long COVID.”
Also known as post-acute COVID syndrome, long COVID describes the constellation of symptoms — such as fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, and “brain fog” — that can linger months after a diagnosis of COVID-19. Previous research suggests people who develop severe COVID symptoms tend to have an imbalance of the gut microbiome (called dysbiosis).
To learn whether that link extended to long COVID, researchers at the Center for Gut Microbiota Research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong analyzed fecal samples from 106 people who had had COVID, as well as 68 people who had not had COVID. They found that individuals in the study who went on to develop long COVID tended to have a less diverse and less abundant microbiome compared with those who fully recovered. They also found an association between specific groups of bacteria and specific post-COVID symptoms. Although more research is needed, the findings could lay the foundation for future treatments or preventive measures for long COVID.
Try this recipe today: Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Sign up for more Dr. Weil newsletters: