Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(4):1082-1095. doi:10.7150/ijms.53596

Research Paper

A quantitative exploration of symptoms in COVID-19 patients: an observational cohort study

Gaojing Qu1, Junwen Chen2, Guoxin Huang1, Meiling Zhang1, Hui Yu1, Haoming Zhu1, Lei Chen1, Dengru Wang3✉, Bin Pei1✉

1. Department of Evidence-Based Medicine Center, Xiangyang No.1 People's Hospital, Hubei University of Medicine, Xiangyang 441000, Hubei, China
2. Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Xiangyang No.1 People's Hospital, Hubei University of Medicine, Xiangyang 441000, Hubei, China
3. Yunnan Yanling Biological Technology co., LTD, Kunming 650224, Yunnan, China
First author: Gaojing Qu and Junwen Chen contributed equally to this article.
Bin Pei and Dengru Wang contributed equally to this article.

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Citation:
Qu G, Chen J, Huang G, Zhang M, Yu H, Zhu H, Chen L, Wang D, Pei B. A quantitative exploration of symptoms in COVID-19 patients: an observational cohort study. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(4):1082-1095. doi:10.7150/ijms.53596. Available from https://www.medsci.org/v18p1082.htm

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Abstract

Background: As the spreading of the COVID-19 around the global, we investigated the characteristics and changes of symptoms in COVID-19 patients.

Methods: This was an ambispective observational cohort study, and 133 confirmed COVID-19 patients were included and all symptoms over the course were analyzed qualitatively. The symptoms, their changes over the course in the cohort and in the different clinical types, etc. were illustrated. Differences in different periods and severities were analyzed through Chi square test, association with severity was analyzed through LASSO binomial logistic regression analysis. Inter-correlation and classification of symptoms were completed. Major symptoms were screened and their changes were illustrated.

Results: A total of 43 symptoms with frequencies as 6067 in this cohort. Differences of symptoms in different stages and clinical types were significant. Expectoration, shortness of breath, dyspnea, diarrhea, poor appetite were positively but vomiting, waist discomfort, pharyngeal discomfort, acid reflux were negatively correlated with the combined-severe and critical type; dyspnea was correlated with the critical type. The 17 major symptoms were identified. The average daily frequency of symptoms per case was decreased continuously before the transition into the severe type and increased immediately one day before the transition and then decreased. It was decreased continuously before the transition date of the critical type and increased from the transition into the critical type to the next day and decreased thereafter. Dyspnea (P<0.001), shortness of breath (P<0.01) and chest distress (P<0.05) were correlated with death and their corresponding coefficient was 0.393, 0.258, 0.214, respectively.

Conclusion: The symptoms of COVID-19 patients mainly related to upper respiratory tract infection, cardiopulmonary function, and digestive system. The mild type and the early stage in other types mainly related to upper respiratory tract infection. The cardiopulmonary function and digestive system associated symptoms were found in all other types and stages. Dyspnea was correlated with critical type and dyspnea, shortness of breath, and chest distress were correlated with death. Respiratory dysfunction (or incompleteness) associated symptoms were the characteristic symptoms. The changes of symptoms did not synchronously with the changes of severity before the transition into the severe or critical type.

Keywords: COVID-19, symptom, changes, characteristic, cohort study