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Long Covid: overlap emerges with ME – including debate over treatment

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As more people suffer lasting symptoms from Covid including fatigue, ME patient advocates fear they will get bad advice,

Based on current estimates, about 10% of COVID-19 patients develop lasting symptoms, one of the most common being fatigue. The underlying mechanism is still unclear, but possible explanations include reduced oxygen supply to tissues caused by heart or lung damage, or muscle weakness from prolonged bed rest.

However, some doctors are increasingly concerned about the overlap between long Covid and another largely virus-triggered illness: “It’s extraordinary how many people have a postviral syndrome that’s very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),” said the US’s top public health official, Dr Anthony Fauci, in July. “They just don’t get back to normal energy or normal feeling of good health.”

Like people with ME/CFS, many long-Covid patients report headaches, brain fog, sleep problems, a racing heart, joint and muscle pain and fatigue. Some also experience a relapse of fever, muscle pain and exhaustion, known as “post-exertional malaise”, if they exercise beyond their capabilities.

“There are so many similarities between long Covid and ME/CFS it leads me to believe the underlying pathology is probably the same – except that long Covid is presenting as an epidemic, whereas ME/CFS has presented in a very sporadic way, and by no means in such large numbers in such a short space of time,” said Dr William Weir, a consultant in infectious diseases with a special interest in ME.

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Source: The Guardian, 19 November 2020

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