Written by: Anne Marie Fogarty, RGN
What is long COVID?
Many people who contract Covid-19 will recover promptly and go on with their lives. However, for some, COVID can linger with debilitating symptoms – this is known as long COVID. The key difference is the length of COVID-19 is short-term while long COVID (as the name suggests) is a longer-term infection.
Long COVID is described as an infection exceeding 12 weeks, after the initial COVID infection, without any secondary cause.
What are the symptoms of long COVID?
As per the National Health Service (NHS), the symptoms can include:
• brain fog/confusion
• shortness of breath
• chest pain
• joint pain and aches
• changes to taste and smell
Recent research has found several less common symptoms, such as hallucinations, hearing issues, insomnia, memory loss, and speech problems.
What’s the latest advice for people who have long COVID?
• Seek support where needed, such as NHS resources for the post-COVID-19 syndrome.
• See your GP to assess the need for an investigation to exclude any underlying organ damage.
• If you have comorbid depression, anxiety, and other conditions, they will require management.
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle, adequate resting as you will probably feel very fatigued, good sleep patterns, a healthy diet to maintain better energy release, and exercise between fatigue symptoms, as exercise will help you feel a boost mentally and keep your body strong.
What are the treatment options for long COVID?
Over 90 specialist long COVID assessment centres have been set up in England. Similar clinics have also been set up in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, offering services for symptom management. Currently, there is no drug treatment for long COVID management, but the management is symptomatic.
Also, remember to talk about how long COVID is affecting your mood. You may feel down, lonely if you lack the energy to get out socialising, and anxious as to what this virus means to your long-term health; there can be many worries, but talking to a professional or trusted friend helps sieve through the anxiety and shares the burden.
While it can be debilitating, and some people may experience long COVID symptoms for a lengthy duration, there are many supports and services that can be accessed via your local GP practice. Reach out and find the help that you need to manage your long COVID.