Scientists are defining “Long Covid” as the long-lasting impact of coronavirus infection for certain patients who continue to feel symptomatic weeks after being deemed negative; which may be affecting people in four different ways. People living with long-term Covid-19 symptoms could have a certain psychological element to the reasoning behind their lingering symptoms, however, new research suggests these patients need more medical support.
Most individuals who test positive for Covid-19 are told they’ll recover within two to three weeks depending on the severity of infection. Now, new reports from the National Institute for Health Research suggests that there could be thousands of US residents living with “ongoing Covid,” or what feels like a never ending battle with the coronavirus due to consistent symptoms.
“The fluctuating and multi system symptoms need to be acknowledged. A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate only for symptoms to arise in a different system.”
The report found recurring symptoms were impacting individuals breathing, brain function, heart/cardiovascular symptoms, livers, and skin. There are four different syndromes that researchers are using to categorize these Long Covid patients; permanent organ damage to the lungs and heart, post-intensive-care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and general continuous Covid-19 symptoms.
Some of the individuals who have experienced symptoms or any of the syndromes listed above have likely stayed in the hospital for longer than initially anticipated, while others may have never even been tested or diagnosed. That’s the difficulty with a virus that presents itself like the common cold and now seasonal allergies as well. Some individuals won’t even think twice about a runny nose and scratchy throat that lingers for weeks on end because it’s normal for this time of year.
The report suggests that researchers are working on a way to diagnose “ongoing Covid” as a means of helping these patients access the proper support and resources they need to feel better faster. Dr. Elaine Maxwell is one of the report’s main authors who discussed how those who had been severely sick with Covid-19 would likely be impacted the most with ongoing Covid while individuals at a lower risk of death (younger individuals with no preexisting conditions) were less likely to continue to feel symptomatic.
“For some, this is related to their rehabilitation following a hospital admission – but others are reporting life-changing experiences that follow an initial infection that they managed at home, with symptoms becoming more severe over time.”
However, there are also instances appearing with individuals being hospitalized for ongoing Covid symptoms who have previously not tested positive for the virus, while individuals who had to be ventilated for several weeks are fully recovered and not experiencing any lingering symptoms. If anything, this is just another stark reminder that this virus is completely unpredictable, and we all should be taking it as seriously as possible.
The other major concern that’s intensified with this research is the way that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting certain parts of the population depending on socioeconomic status. Black and Asian communities alone have seen much higher death rates due to the coronavirus, and there are major concerns for all socially disadvantaged groups that don’t normally have access to proper medical facilities to be tested and treated. These individuals are also suffering for months on end with no recognition simply due to the fact that they can’t afford a standard hospital visit.
In America alone, there have been close to 8 million confirmed positive cases of Covid-19, with about 217,000 deaths. Those statistics alone should be staggering enough to make you wear your mask, and stay home as much as you possibly can in the coming months until a proper drug treatment or vaccine is established.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.