Our understanding of COVID-19 has come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic, but “Long Covid” shows us how much more there is to learn. “Long Covid” or COVID-19 “Long Haulers” are terms to describe people who have recovered from coronavirus but continue to experience a wide range of symptoms including brain fog, extreme fatigue, lingering loss of taste and smell.
Researchers at King’s College London recently published a study that looked at data from 4,182 users of the COVID Symptom Study app who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been consistently documenting their health status. They found that 1 in 20 people with COVID-19 are likely to experience symptoms for at least eight weeks. Long haulers can experience symptoms that impact the brain, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, liver, and skin. These ongoing symptoms can be cyclical and their severity can fluctuate.
This study found that long Covid affects around 10% of 18-49 year olds and 22% of people over 70 years of age who contract COVID-19. Additionally, they found that age, weight, gender (women are more likely to suffer from long Covid), and asthma are all risk factors for developing long Covid. Interestingly, the researchers found that people who reported a wide range of initial symptoms were more likely to develop long Covid and that there were no clear links to other underlying conditions besides asthma.
Dr. Elaine Maxwell who presented the findings of the “Living with COVID” report in an online media briefing is quoted in a Reuters article describing the necessity of continued research and ongoing support of people who experience long term symptoms:
“While this is a new disease and we are learning more about its impact..., services will need to be better equipped to support people with ongoing COVID, as emerging evidence is showing there are significant psychological and social impacts that will have long term consequences.”
Until next time, stay vigilant, and let's do everything we can to stop the spread.
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