Persistent covid-19, in which patients experience symptoms for months, may be affecting people in four different ways at once. And that may explain why patients with these persistent symptoms are not receiving adequate treatment.
In addition, there may be a huge psychological impact on patients with this long covid-19, points out a review of studies by the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health Research.
These people need more support, and health professionals, more information.
In general, the vast majority of people infected with a moderate form of covid-19 experience symptoms for up to two weeks. In the most severe cases, the signals take up to three weeks to pass.
But there are thousands of people today with persistent covid-19, and the number keeps growing.
According to recent studies and interviews with 14 people who are part of support groups for prolonged covid on Facebook, the review by the National Institute of Health Research pointed out that symptoms affect breathing, the brain, the heart, the cardiovascular system, the kidneys, liver, skin and intestine.
These symptoms appear in the form of four major syndromes:
- permanent damage to the lungs and heart
- post-intensive care syndrome
- post-viral fatigue syndrome
- continuous symptoms of covid-19
Some of those affected by this prolonged form of the disease spent a long period in the hospital with severe covid-19. But others have had a moderate form of the disease or have not even been tested or diagnosed.
The health agency’s review states that research is underway to provide better support for these patients.
“It is becoming clear that, for some, covid-19 infection is a long-term illness,” says the study.
“For some of these people, it is related to the rehabilitation that follows admission to the hospital. But others are reporting transformative experiences that start with an infection that can be administered at home, but with symptoms that get worse over time.”
Elaine Maxwell, a doctor who signs the health agency’s study, said she previously thought that persistent covid reached more people who became seriously ill and less who was not at risk for the disease.
But her study found that she was wrong.
“Now we know that people with no record of having taken covid-19 are suffering more than people who have been on respirators for weeks.”
According to her, these debilitating effects represent a burden for both patients and the health system.
Data collected through the Covid Symptom Study application, which has more than 4 million users, point out the most common symptoms linked to this condition.
The two most reported signs are chronic fatigue (98%) and headache (91%).
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term debilitating condition in which the affected person experiences a series of symptoms. The most important of these is an exhaustion that does not improve with rest or sleep and that affects patients in all aspects of their routine.
Second, the group of symptoms most common in patients with prolonged covid-19 includes persistent cough, shortness of breath and loss of smell (which also affects taste). See below for a complete list of symptoms linked to this health condition.
‘My kids had to take over the kitchen and cleaning’
Jo House, a professor at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, has yet to return to work more than six months after being infected.
Her health condition started with a strong cough and difficulty breathing, but then she started to face fatigue, headache, heart problems and muscle pain.
“The other day I woke up, I was pretty confused, passed out and ended up in the ER.”
Although your racing heart and shortness of breath have subsided, the symptoms still have a major impact on your life and that of your family.
Her partner, Ash, is also showing symptoms that won’t go away. As a result, their teenage children took care of preparing meals and cleaning the house.
“Many people are classified as having mild symptoms, but in reality they are not at all mild. We need support,” he says.
Although she had pneumonia, she was never tested for the virus and was not admitted to the hospital.
“We both made wills when we were very sick. It was scary.”
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