Long Covid: The two most common ‘residual’ symptoms seen 9 months after initial infection

Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus

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“Long Covid” – a term that’s come to describe the symptoms of Covid that persist for weeks if not months after the initial infection has disappeared – is afflicting vast numbers of Britons, the latest figures suggest. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around 1.2 million people in the UK are currently reporting a diminished quality of life due to long Covid.

Ongoing research aims to establish the symptom profile of long Covid, with the principal aim of developing targeted treatments.

A recent study published in the Journal of Infection sought to identify the “residual” symptoms lasting several months after initial COVID-19 infection has disappeared.

Researchers analysed a prospective cohort of COVID-19 patients older than 18 years diagnosed with symptomatic and laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection at Verona University Hospital, Italy, during the period February 29 to May 2, 2020.

For the study, 465 patients (54 percent males, 51 percent hospitalised) were included.

According to the researchers, 37 percent presented with at least four symptoms and 42 percent complained of symptoms lasting more than 28 days.

At month nine, 20 percent of patients were still symptomatic, showing mainly fatigue and breathlessness.

The researchers also identified the risk factors that could predict whether someone experiences Covid symptoms for the best part of a year.

Patients over 50 years requiring hospital care and presenting with four or more symptoms were independent predictors of persistence of symptoms at month nine, they found.

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What’s more, a total of 18 percent of patients did not return to optimal pre-Covid physical health, while 19 percent showed psychological distress at month nine.

Hospital admission and persistence of symptoms at day 28 and month nine were independent predictors of suboptimal physical health, while female gender and persistence of symptoms at day 28 and month nine were risk factors for psychological distress, the researchers observed.

They concluded: “Patients with advanced age, ICU stay and multiple symptoms at onset were more likely to suffer from long-term symptoms, which had a negative impact on both physical and mental wellbeing.

“This study contributes to identifying the target populations and long Covid consequences for planning long-term recovery interventions.”

How to respond to long Covid

The NHS says: “Contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having COVID-19.”

The health body continues: “Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life.

“They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.”

These might include:

  • Blood tests
  • Checking your blood pressure and heart rate
  • A chest X-ray.

Unfortunately, there is currently no proven way to cure long Covid.

The main approach is to manage and monitor symptoms at home.

“If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have,” explains the NHS.

The health body adds: “These services can help manage your symptoms and help you recover.”

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