Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus
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Whether it has been three months from the initial infection, or six months, researchers from the University of Oxford found that 37 percent of people who catch Covid go on to suffer from long Covid. The most common signs of long Covid included breathing problems, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression. Data from more than 270,000 people recovering from a Covid infection were analysed for the research study.
The researchers gained access to this data from the US-based TriNetX electronic health record network.
Nine “core” long Covid symptoms were recorded and compared against how common such symptoms were for those recovering from influenza.
Here are the results, with long Covid symptoms appearing three to six months after Covid diagnosis:
- Abnormal breathing – eight percent
- Abdominal symptoms – eight percent
- Anxiety/depression – 15 percent
- Chest/throat pain – six percent
- Cognitive problems (‘brain fog’) – four percent
- Fatigue – six percent
- Headache – five percent
- Myalgia (muscle pain) – 1.5 percent
- Other pain – seven percent
- Any of the above features – 37 percent.
Severity of infection, age, and sex affected the likelihood of long Covid symptoms, the researchers noted.
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Long Covid symptoms were more frequent in those who had been hospitalised, and slightly more common in women.
Delving into the statistics, the study found that older people and men were more likely to suffer from breathing difficulties and cognitive issues.
Meanwhile, young people and women had more headaches, abdominal symptoms, anxiety and depression.
Many Covid patients had “more than one long Covid symptom”, with more symptoms experienced the longer that time went on.
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While the same symptoms can be seen in people recovering from influenza, they were 1.5 times more common following a Covid infection.
Limitations to the research include the following:
- No explanation as to what causes long Covid
- No range of how severe the symptoms were/are
- No details on how long symptoms will persist for.
The results also do not include those who had Covid but were not diagnosed because they were asymptomatic and did not get tested.
Dr Max Taquet – NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow – who led the analysis commented on the results.
Dr Taquet said: “The results confirm that a significant proportion of people, of all ages, can be affected by a range of symptoms and difficulties in the six months after COVID-19 infection.
“These data complement findings from self-report surveys, and show that clinicians are diagnosing patients with these symptoms.
“We need appropriately configured services to deal with the current and future clinical need.”
Professor Paul Harrison, who headed the study, added: “Research of different kinds is urgently needed to understand why not everyone recovers rapidly and fully from COVID-19.
“We need to identify the mechanisms underlying the diverse symptoms that can affect survivors.
“This information will be essential if the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 are to be prevented or treated effectively.”
This research study was a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
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