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Most patients of COVID-19 are told they will recover from mild coronavirus infections within two weeks and from more serious infection within three. However, new reports are stating that thousands could be living with long COVID symptoms. With coronavirus cases rising across the UK, this number is also likely to increase in the coming months. Researchers have pinpointed the four symptoms of long COVID.
Thousands of survivors have reported being plagued by symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain and heart arrhythmias months after beating the disease.
Academics at the National Institute for Health Research released their findings today and warned that even children can suffer from long COVID symptoms.
The experts also claimed that the symptoms could be grouped into four different groups:
- Post intensive care syndrome (PICS)
- Post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS)
- Permanent organ damage (POD)
- Long term COVID syndrome (LTCS)
“It is becoming clear that, for some people, Covid-19 infection is a long-term illness,” the report says.
“For some, this is related to their rehabilitation following a hospital admission – but others are reporting life-changing experiences that follow an initial infection that they managed at home, with symptoms becoming more severe over time.”
Report author Dr Elaine Maxwell added: “We now know that there are people with no record of having COVID who are suffering more than someone who was ventilated for several weeks.”
Post intensive care syndrome occurs when critically ill patients suffer a range of health problems after a long stay in hospital.
It may cause symptoms such as muscle weakness which could be caused by being stationary for so long – an indirect cause of the virus itself – which can make basic tasks difficult.
PICS patients may suffer anxiety or another mental health problems, or even a brain dysfunction.
Some patients experience fatigue and brain fog in a way that’s consistent with PVFS, a syndrome seen after infection after other viruses like enterovirus or rubella, said Dr Maxwell.
“Some people have clear evidence of permanent organ damage caused by the virus, particularly lung damage and heart damage.
“A significant group have symptoms that don’t fit those categories and describe a rollercoaster of symptoms that move around the body and do not progress towards recovery.
“We hear that some may start with a mild infection, often described as less severe than a previous chest infection, although had no fever or no cough.
“Symptoms then appear in different parts of the body such as the heart, skin or gut.
“Others developed new heart arrhythmias and fainting up to six months into their symptoms journey.”
Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Chief Medical Officer of leading symptom assessment tool Doctorlink said: “There have been people who have been in intensive care with COVID-19, but who have made a full recovery, whilst on the other end of the scale, there are people who had a relatively minor infection, but have then gone on to experience symptoms that don’t go away for months.
“There is a huge amount of funding going into large-scale research projects, so medical professionals can better understand the ways in which the virus manifests itself.”
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