Long covid symptoms can last from anywhere between 5 and 12 weeks.
Gulf Today Report
Although the novel coronavirus is now over a year old, we are constantly learning new aspects about how it manifests.
The virus is unravelling each day, with many new mutants emerging.
In the first few months of the pandemic, health experts believed Covid-19 was generally a mild infection that would pass pretty quickly, with a small percentage of patients needing serious hospital treatment.
However, in recent months, research has revealed that a growing number of people who contracted the virus are experiencing lingering symptoms that can last for months.
Although the full picture isn’t yet known, research suggests around one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 are suffering with symptoms for five weeks or longer, and around one in 10 still struggle with symptoms for 12 weeks or longer.
Covid positive patients are reporting a huge spectrum of problems, including severe fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches and joint pain.
What exactly is long Covid?
While the health watchdog NICE defines long Covid as lasting for more than 12 weeks, some people believe it applies to shorter timeframes too.
Dr Brian O’Connor, consultant in respiratory medicine, says the term describes the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 that are present for four weeks after the initial infection.
“The symptoms of long Covid can be more wide-ranging than the symptoms of Covid-19, and it can affect your whole body,” adds Jessica Kirby, head of health advice at Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation (blf.org.uk).
“Many people also find that their symptoms change and can come and go over time.”
What are some of the main signs and symptoms of long Covid?
Researchers are still finding new facts about long covid, as people continue to report a wide range of symptoms.
O’Connor says the most common are respiratory symptoms, such as breathlessness and a lingering cough, and cardiovascular symptoms including chest tightness, chest pain and palpitations.
“For others, it may be general symptoms of fatigue, body ache, a sensation of fever and occasional low-grade fever with pain,” he notes.
“Plus, there can be neurological symptoms too, which can include brain fog, loss of concentration, loss of memory, headaches, sleep disturbance, peripheral neuropathy symptoms, pins and needles and numbness, as well as dizziness.”
The effect of long covid on our mental health shouldn’t be overlooked either.
“A high proportion of patients exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly when the effects of Covid impact hugely on their normal day-to-day living,” says O’Connor.
Should you be concerned if you have long Covid?
The reassuring news is that the vast majority of people with long Covid don’t have any life-threatening complications or irreparable damage.
On the basis of our current knowledge, O’Connor says we have no reason to believe there is any permanent effect of Covid-19 on someone’s health.
What treatments are available, and is the outlook hopeful?
Kirby says your doctor will give you tailored advice on how you can manage your symptoms, depending on what they are.
O’Connor adds: “The most therapeutic interventions are focused on rehabilitation and return to normal activity, through a manageable exercise programme and regimen.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to predict how long recovery from long Covid will take, as it varies from person to person.
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