What is Long Covid?
The main symptoms of Covid-19 are now very commonly known, the dry cough, high temperature and the loss of smell or taste which may last a couple of weeks. For most people, these symptoms are perfectly manageable, subside quickly and they are able to continue with their lives. Unfortunately, there are others who experience more long term, debilitating symptoms following the initial infection (often after two weeks) which is having a significant detrimental impact on their lives. This is called ‘Long Covid’ and there are an increasing number of people suffering from it.
Experts believe that, in some people, the symptoms of Long Covid could be the result of damage to organs, the nervous system and the immune system caused by the initial virus.
Who is at risk?
Whilst Long Covid research is still ongoing and researchers are yet to find any concrete correlations, early indications suggest that age may play a role in developing Long Covid and women are slightly more at risk. The range of symptoms experienced within the first week of contracting the virus is also thought to play a significant role. Someone who suffered from only a cough within the first week would be less likely to contract Long Covid than someone who had a cough, loss of smell, fatigue, loss of appetite and headaches, for example. The severity of symptoms doesn’t seem to link to the likelihood of developing Long Covid, as even those with mild Coronavirus symptoms could develop long term after effects.
Pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and lung, kidney or heart disease may all raise the risk of contracting Long Covid.
At the same time, young and otherwise healthy people with no pre-existing conditions are also suffering from Long Covid so it can strike anyone.
Symptoms of Long Covid
The list of possible symptoms associated with Long Covid is long. Some of the most common symptoms are extreme fatigue, joint issues, cognitive difficulties, anxiety, depression, diarrhea and headaches. Whilst the experience of Long Covid can differ significantly from one person to the next, extreme fatigue is a very commonly reported symptom.
Long Covid has also been shown to cause heart problems, such as irregular heartbeat and chest pain as well as lung problems such as shortness of breath.
Cognitive issues such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating are also common and very frustrating for Long Covid sufferers.
Dealing with such a wide variety of debilitating symptoms may also have a negative impact on mental health leading to anxiety, depression and increased stress.
How Common is Long Covid?
Experimental statistics estimate that around 150,000 people could be suffering from Long Covid symptoms more than three months after initially catching the virus. The Office for National Statistics also estimated that one in every ten Covid 19 patients could end up with symptoms lasting for three months or more (which is data taken from the symptom tracker app). One in five patients are thought to have symptoms lasting for five weeks or more.
What is Long Covid like?
Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of Long Covid and one of the most debilitating. Many people describe difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and performing everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth and making a drink.
Some people are suffering from breathing problems and constantly feel as though they’re trying to catch their breath, similar to when exercising. Moving to perform routine daily activities increases breathlessness.
Muscle aches and joint pain has been described by many as the pain experienced with the flu, which makes movement of any kind very painful.
The physical symptoms can be extremely difficult to deal with and these are made even more difficult by the uncertainty of recovery. People are also experiencing increased anxiety and low mood as they are no longer able to do the things they enjoy, so there is a significant mental health concern as well.
Long Covid Treatment
Due to the wide ranging symptoms people are experiencing with Long Covid, treatment plans must be tailored to the individual and a wide range of approaches used. For people experiencing chronic fatigue, a rehabilitation plan may focus on slowly building up daily activities to help them get back to where they were before.
For people experiencing symptoms such as heart palpitations and cognitive issues, further tests may be required so that specialists have a clear understanding of what’s going on and a recovery plan can be developed from there.
What to do if you think you have Long Covid
If you’ve recovered from Covid 19 but you’re still experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can make an appointment to see a specialist at our new clinic designed to help people suffering from Long Covid.
We will talk through your medical history, the symptoms you experienced when you caught the virus and the symptoms you’re experiencing now. Depending on your symptoms, we may order some routine tests to gather more information and rule out any other conditions.
Once we have an understanding of your symptoms, we will work with you to design a comprehensive rehabilitation program that will get you on the road to recovery and meet your goals.