What is Long Covid?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recently defined Long Covid as the continuing symptoms of Covid-19 for twelve weeks or more – where the symptoms cannot be satisfactorily explained by an alternative diagnosis.
The risks of developing Long Covid?
Evidence to date suggests that there is no clear link between the severity of Covid-19 and the likelihood of developing Long Covid. i.e., those hospitalised with Covid-19 seem no more likely to develop long term effects.
What are the symptoms of Long Covid?
There is an extensive list of symptoms for Long Covid – which are essentially a continuation of Covid-19 symptoms – and as is the case with Covid-19 those effected can have few or many symptoms.
- Respiratory Issues – breathing difficulties, a persistent cough, chest pains, pins and needles and palpitations.
- Digestive and gut issues – abdominal pain, upset stomach. diarrhoea, sickness, and loss of appetite.
- Impaired mental functions – loss of memory, brain fog, insomnia, feeling dizzy or a sense of disorientation.
- Muscle or joint pain – and general feelings of fatigue and tiredness with aches and pains.
- Depression – on-going feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Loss of smell and taste.
How common is Long Covid?
It is difficult to know for sure just how prevalent Long Covid is. The data is still emerging, and it is proving difficult to perform accurate diagnoses in some cases. For example, is the on-gong presence of depressive symptoms a consequence of Long Covid or the bodies natural response to a range of other issues such as the ‘national lockdown’ or ‘social distancing’ restrictions? Its probably difficult to say and so long as the individual receives the support they need – perhaps it doesn’t really matter.
The Office for National Statistics estimated in March this year that there were circa 1.1m people in the UK suffering the effects of Long Covid. An extensive study at the University of Leicester estimates that seven in every ten patients released from hospital following a Covid-19 infection; were showing signs of not having ‘fully recovered’ from the effects of the virus five months later. The University of Leicester study highlighted the fact that long term affects are commonplace with a range of oral viruses – so Covid-19 is not unique in this respect.
Research into Long Covid is very much in its infancy but, some potential links to age, sex and specific symptoms are starting to emerge with a propensity to contract Long Covid. For example, the propensity of Long Covid in the eighteen- to forty-nine-year-old age range is ten per cent but this increases to twenty-two per cent in the age range over seventy. Researchers have also found a higher trend of Long Covid in white females of all ages but, further analysis is requited.
Researchers have also found a potential link between asthma sufferers and the potential to contract Long Covid – which to date is (fortunately) the only link that has been established between an existing health condition and Long Covid.
Is Long Covid contagious? No Long Covid is not contagious. Long Covid is the bodies continuing response to the Covid 19 virus – long after the period of time where you were contagious.
Managing Long Covid and getting help.
Take your time, respect the condition, and know it will take you time to recover.
Get plenty of rest and sleep.
Don’t worry if you get out of breath – just take it easy but stay active – you need to keep exercising and using your muscles etc. Focus on exercise like walking.
Stay in touch with people – family and friends and be prepared to tell people how you feel – remember you have done nothing wrong, and people can’t help and support you if they don’t understand what you are going through.
Importantly, remember to talk to your GP and get access to the range of treatments and services that will be able to help you.