Long Covid: The Symptoms and Effects
Now that the vaccination roll-out has been a decent success (thanks to the NHS), attention is turning to two things. Firstly, the variants that are occurring as a result of the virus mutating and what folks are dubbing “long covid”. But what exactly is long covid and why does it matter so much? Well, read on, my friends. And we’ll attempt to break down everything we know about long covid, so far.
What is Long Covid?
Long covid is simply the shorthand term given to the general symptoms of those who have caught – and survived – covid. Once people have passed the worst of the virus itself, many are dealing with the lasting effects of the damage caused during the active phase of the virus. In other words, while some folk are able to bounce back after catching coronavirus, others struggle with long-term effects.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Covid-19?
Naturally, everyone has different immunities and body responses to illness. You don’t need to have a pre-existing condition in order to suffer from long covid. However, the effects are more likely to be worse if you do have another illness, as well. Not because of the pre-existing illness, but because of how the two, together, can make you feel more run-down and tired. As you can imagine, dealing with two illnesses at once can be exhausting.
Most people will recover from covid-19 within roughly 12 weeks. Unfortunately, many who have mild symptoms when recovering from the active phase of the virus itself, can actually struggle with many long-term problems as a result of the infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Long Covid?
Many of the symptoms of long covid align with the seasonal flu. However, the symptoms of long covid can last much longer than the standard flu infection. With the flu, most people recover within 2 weeks. With the long-term effects of coronavirus, the problems can last for weeks or even months.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
- change in menstrual cycles
Of course, it’s important to note that we are still very much in a learning phase about the effects of long covid. Some of these issues, such as depression and anxiety, may be an effect of the trauma some people go through, when they catch covid-19. If an individual ends up on life support, it will come as no surprise that they will struggle with the stress that comes with that experience. While these are not a result of the physical effects of the virus, they are still very much caused by the impact of the virus.
What Happens if I Have Long Covid?
If you think you might have long covid, then the first thing you should do is speak with your doctor. When you make your appointment, be sure to tell them that you previously had coronavirus. Then explain the symptoms you’re currently having and how they are affecting your day-to-day life. If you are very concerned, are struggling to breathe or believe the symptoms are immediately life-threatening, call 999.