Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children
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As time goes on, scientists are learning more and more about long Covid. There is no consensus on the disease’s definition but in the UK it is widely used to describe Covid symptoms that last for weeks or months after infection. Last year, scientists from a top UK university were able to spot 203 long lasting Covid symptoms that span 10 organ systems.
University College London academics looked at data from a major online survey where thousands of Covid patients identified the symptoms they were experiencing over the weeks and months after infection.
Fatigue and brain fog were the main symptoms spotted, and these symptoms often seemed to worsen after physical exertion.
But the 3,762 patients involved from over 56 countries found other more mysterious symptoms most of us don’t usually link with Covid.
Sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, shingles, memory loss, tinnitus, itchy skin, tremors were among the more abnormal symptoms spotted.
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The wide range of symptoms “may point to larger neurological issues involving both the central and peripheral nervous system,” according to one of the researchers, Doctor Arthena Akrami.
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, which acts like the processing centre for the body. The peripheral nervous system connects parts of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.There is lots to be learned about long Covid and scientists have put forward many suggestions about what causes the symptoms.
Some studies have suggested that long Covid is an autoimmune disease, similar to Parkinson’s disease.
An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system attacks itself.
The body cannot tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells so causes the body to attack healthy cells.
According to one small study from 2021, 44 percent of long Covid patients involved had high levels of a type of antibody connected with other autoimmune diseases and lupus.
This was supported by a more recent study in January by the University of Washington, which also spotted autoimmune antibodies and the Epstein-Barr virus in Covid sufferers.
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Many of the 200 plus symptoms may also be the result of the virus itself directly damaging the organs and tissues of the body.
Covid is known to cause excessive inflammation, including of the heart muscle. Researchers explain that this could be what leads to reported heart palpitations and shortness of breath in long Covid.
The symptoms could also be explained because the body simply hasn’t repaired damaged organs, such as the lungs. Severe Covid is known to cause permanent problems in the lungs.
Most recently, a study published in MedrXiv found three types of long Covid, which consist of different symptoms.
Which variant of Covid people were infected with seemed to determine which subgroup it was in.
The study found those suffering with fatigue, brain fog and headache were mostly infected with Alpha and Delta variants.However, another type of long Covid consists of symptoms like shortness of breath, and chest pain suffered long Covid during the first wave of the pandemic.
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