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Long COVID: symptoms experienced during infection may predict lasting illness

Researchers from the 'Therapies for Long COVID (TLC) Study Group' at the University of Birmingham are studying long COVID is and what influences it by pooling data from lots of separate studies to find out the prevalence of reported symptoms and to see what the impacts and complications of long COVID are.

Their review showed just how varied long COVID is. Patients may experience symptoms related to any system in the body – including respiratory, neurological and gastroenterological symptoms. The pooled data showed that the ten most commonly reported symptoms in long COVID are fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, cough, headache, joint pain, chest pain, an altered sense of smell, diarrhoea and altered taste.

Other common symptoms include “brain fog” – when thinking is fuzzy and sluggish – memory loss, disordered sleep, heart palpitations and a sore throat. Rare but important outcomes include thoughts of self-harm and suicide and even seizures.

Most long COVID patients complain of symptoms experienced during their acute infection persisting beyond it, with the number of symptoms experienced tending to decline as patients move from acute to long COVID. Some, though, report developing new symptoms during their long COVID illness, while some also report symptoms reoccuring that had previously resolved themselves.

What the huge variability of long COVID suggests is that it actually comprises a number of different syndromes, potentially with different underlying causes. A better understanding of the underlying biological and immunological mechanisms of long COVID is therefore urgently needed if we’re to develop effective treatments for it.

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Source: The Conversation, 27 July 2021



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