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College-Age Students May Suffer From COVID As 'Long Haulers,' UD Study Finds

Chest pain is among the symptoms some college-age students experienced up to 50 days post being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Chest pain is among the symptoms some college-age students experienced up to 50 days post being diagnosed with COVID-19.

New research by the University of Dayton finds college-age students are not immune to post-COVID "long haul" syndrome. Preliminary findings from a small study discovered more than 50% still had symptoms after 28 days.

Assistant Psychology Professor Julie Walsh-Messinger originally set out to study something else related to COVID. But when she found a large number of participants had lingering symptoms, she pivoted. "Long haul syndrome" is something she knows about. Walsh-Messinger suffers from it herself.

The 40 students who participated in the online study had all been diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition to the 50% who had symptoms after one month, 30% still were feeling it after more than 50 days. They suffered from a variety of symptoms, including:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • congestion
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste
  • loss of appetite

Walsh-Messinger and her colleagues also noticed they were forgetful. "More so than usual," she says. "Some were turning in assignments early but apologizing for turning them in late." Others forgot assignments altogether.

The psychology professor is also concerned about their mental health and medical care. She plans to follow those enrolled in the study for a longer period of time and to expand her research.

For the study, she partnered with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and thePulmonary Wellness Foundation, which is offering free rehab for long haulers.

Walsh-Messinger thinks this is the first study of college students with post COVID syndrome.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.