Scand J Public Health 50 (1) 85-93 [2022-02-00; online 2021-06-19]
The main aim of the study was to describe self-reported symptoms of COVID-19 and examine if long-term symptoms are associated with lifestyle factors or common chronic diseases among Swedish young adults. A secondary aim was to compare the prevalence of smoking and snuff use before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study population includes 1644 participants aged 23-26 years from the Swedish population-based birth cohort BAMSE. From August to November 2020, the participants answered a web questionnaire on COVID-19 symptoms, lifestyle and health. Information on tobacco use was compared against the previous study follow-up in 2016-2019. The prevalence of suspected COVID-19 symptoms was 45.3% (n=742), and 80 of these (10.8%) reported long-term symptoms (⩾4 weeks). There was no significant difference in sociodemographic or lifestyle factors in relation to the duration of suspected COVID-19 symptoms. Rhinitis, migraine and lower self-rated health before the pandemic was more common among participants with long-term symptoms. In addition, there was a tendency for higher prevalences of asthma, chronic bronchitis and depression in this group. The prevalence of smoking decreased from 18.9% before the pandemic to 14.7% during the pandemic, while snuff use increased from 12.7% to 22.4% (P<0.001). Almost half of Swedish young adults have had symptoms of suspected COVID-19 from February up to August 2020. Among these, one out of 10 have had long-term symptoms for at least 4 weeks. Long-term symptoms of suspected COVID-19 were associated with several common chronic conditions. Smoking may have decreased during the pandemic, while snuff use may have increased.