COVID lingers for a longer duration in some people. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) prefers calling it post COVID condition, health experts have named this long COVID condition. Long COVID is a reason to worry about. There are several symptoms of long COVID which often get overlooked. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment the long COVID condition can be alleviated to a large extent.
The problem has several names. The National Institutes of Health refer to long-term COVID-19 symptoms as PASC, which stands for post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2. More common terms are post-COVID syndrome, long COVID or long-term COVID. People living with post-COVID syndrome are sometimes known as “long haulers.
SARS-CoV-2 can attack the body in a range of ways, causing damage to the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, liver and other organs. Mental health problems can arise from grief and loss, unresolved pain or fatigue, or from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Brigham says, “We’re seeing a spectrum of symptoms after acute COVID-19, some of which would be expected after other critical illnesses. Some are minor, but other people may need continuing care and even readmission to the hospital.” She notes that similar, lingering problems can affect patients with other serious illnesses.
But what’s curious is that it seems post-COVID-19 syndrome is not just afflicting people who were very sick with the coronavirus. “Patients who were never severely ill are coming to clinic and saying that their lives are different now.
When we consider just how many people have been infected with Covid-19, that amounts to millions of people dealing with persistent, ongoing symptoms. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on why this is happening and why only some people seem to be affected, though a recent preprint study out of Israel suggests that vaccinated people may have a lower risk of developing long Covid symptoms.
The good news is that most with long Covid do seem to get better over time without treatment, says Katz, the principal investigator of the NIH-funded Recover Initiative to study the long-term effects of Covid-19. But it can be hard to stay hopeful when you’ve been dealing with chronic, disruptive symptoms for months.
Anyone who becomes ill with COVID-19 can develop post COVID-19 conditions. Current research shows that approximately 10%-20% of COVID-19 patients go on to develop prolonged symptoms that may be post COVID-19 condition. There does not appear to be a relationship between the initial severity of COVID-19 infection and the likelihood of developing post COVID-19 condition.
Long COVID is a term used to describe the presence of various symptoms persisting weeks or months after infection with SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of the viral strain. The fact that long COVID can considerably reduce the quality of life of infected patients emphasizes the urgent need to identify their effects
Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection. Common signs and symptoms that linger over time include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Memory, concentration or sleep problems
Muscle pain or headache
Fast or pounding heartbeat
Loss of smell or taste
Depression or anxiety
Dizziness when you stand
Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities
People who have severe symptoms of COVID-19 often have to be treated in a hospital’s intensive care unit, with mechanical assistance such as ventilators to breathe. Simply surviving this experience can make a person more likely to later develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety.
Because it’s difficult to predict long-term outcomes from the new COVID-19 virus, scientists are looking at the long-term effects seen in related viruses, such as the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Many people who have recovered from SARS have gone on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest. The same may be true for people who have had COVID-19.