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What is Long Covid? What do we know so far?

In a recent report by the UK's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Long Covid is not one syndrome, but four different syndromes.

Coronavirus infection is reported as respiratory disease and most patients recover from the virus within two to three weeks. But, this is half true. There are hundreds of people who are still experiencing symptoms several months after testing negative for COVID-19.

UK scientists and doctors have warned the global community to focus on Long Covid while the World Health Organization (WHO) has also started considering its complications. 


What is Long Covid?

Long Covid has no specific medical definition or list of symptoms but patients even after testing COVID-19 negative struggle with health problems for months. Long-term experience of symptoms remains after recovering from Covid-19.

The symptoms of long covid can be completely different for different people. But, the common symptom is fatigue. Difficulty in breathing, cough, joint pain, muscle pain, hearing and sight problems, headache, loss of smell and taste are among other symptoms. Besides, it can also cause damage to the intestines, kidneys, lungs and heart. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and the struggle for clear thinking are also being listed as major disorders that can ruin the quality of life of any person. 

Long Covid was first introduced to the world by Alyssa Perego (Research Associate of University College London) in May 2020, sharing her Covid-19 experiences. Since then many patients have had the same experiences. 


How many patients are getting Long Covid?

A study conducted on 143 Covid-19 patients who returned home from Rome's largest hospital has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was found that 87% had at least one symptom even after two months while more than half of patients still experience tiredness.

Four million people in the UK are using The Covid Simtump Tracker app. It was found that 12% of the patients had some symptoms even after 30 days. According to its new data, two per cent of people have symptoms of long covid even after 90 days.

In August 2020, the WHO also took notice of it and discussed with researchers, experts from the UK's National Health Service and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) including other institutions whether Long Covid should be concentrated as a separate disease. 


How is this virus causing long covid?

The hypothesis says that the virus is released from most parts of the body and  Coronavirus can infect many cells of the body. After one becomes COVID-19 negative, the immune system does not become completely normal but makes a patient sicker. Apart from this, this infection is also changing the way organisms work in the human body causing long term damage to the lungs. 

Covid also has changing effects on one’s metabolism. It fluctuates sugar levels,  especially to those with signs of diabetes after Covid-19. Some people have also changed the way of processing fats.

Early signs of changes in brain structure have been found. However, a detailed investigation needs to be done whereas it has affected blood in most. Along with abnormal clotting, the network of veins that carry blood throughout the body has also been damaged.

Also Read: Coronavirus may amplify via respiratory droplets in winter: study

Does it depend on the severity of the Covid-19?

No, but surprisingly, people who had mild symptoms while being Covid-19 positive are also seen to be struggling with Long Covid symptoms. This means that it doesn't need to be only those who were COVID-19 critical can experience the symptoms.


What to do if you suffer from long covid? 

Doctors and experts associated with the British Medical Journal say that if you are not able to recover from covid-19 and the symptoms continue to increase even after you have tested negative for the infection, one must immediately see a doctor. 


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