Long COVID, also known as ‘post-COVID syndrome’, is used to describe the effects of COVID-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness.
Symptoms of long COVID
People with long COVID experience a range of persistent and fluctuating symptoms; including fatigue, cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, chest pain, cognitive problems, muscle pain, neurological symptom, diarrhoea, and skin rashes. These symptoms may persist for many weeks or months after they are supposed to have disappeared.
Causes of long COVID
Medical experts are still trying to figure out what causes long COVID.
SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can trigger an overactive immune response which also causes damage throughout the body. Some believe that the immune system does not return to normal after COVID-19 and this could be one of the reasons for prolonged ill-health.
Who is at risk of long COVID?
Long COVID is not just people taking time to recover from severe symptoms of COVID-19. Reports suggest that even people with relatively mild infections can experience lasting health problems.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health Research have said it cannot be assumed that people who are at lower risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 are also at low risk of long COVID.
How to manage long COVID-19
Prof. Garner from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who also had long COVID emphasized that trying to get back to work and return to the regular rhythm of activities impedes recovery from long COVID. This is why the experts advised that careful self-pacing is more helpful than trying to force recovery.
Also, General practitioners can manage long COVID patients using general practice and clinical skills like listening to the patient, documenting when the illness started, documenting what the symptoms are, how they’ve changed, how they fluctuate, and being alert to symptoms that might suggest that the patient needs to be referred to a specialist.