GMB: Carol Vorderman discusses long Covid
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Also known as post-COVID-19 syndrome, Long Covid has symptoms which can last for weeks or months after the initial infection with coronavirus. While most people feel better after the virus in a matter of days or for some after 12 weeks, for others the symptoms can last longer.
Developing Long Covid does not relate to how ill the virus initially made you feel, as the NHS explains those with mild symptoms can still experience long-term issues.
The NHS has published a list of 14 common symptoms for those experiencing Long Covid.
These can range from extreme tiredness – fatigue – to memory issues, joint pain to anxiety.
With COVID-19 being such a new virus, studies into the long-term effects are still ongoing.
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A recent study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care found a “significant decline in symptom prevalence during the first 12 weeks following SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19] infection, as reported by about 1/5th of the respondents.”
“However, among these respondents, more than a third remained symptomatic at 12 weeks and beyond, with little evidence for decline thereafter.”
The study also found risk factors for still having symptoms at 12 weeks or later were
- female sex
- hospitalization due to COVID-19
There was also “strong evidence for the risk increasing with age”.
And the survey found an “increased risk in lower-income, smoking / vaping, and healthcare worker populations.”
While “People of Asian ethnicity were found to have a lower risk.”
The study examined 508,707 people aged 18 or over who were registered with a GP.
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So what are the 14 symptoms associated with Long Covid?
According to the NHS, the symptoms of Long Covid are
- 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
This list is not exhaustive, as studies are still ongoing.
For example, experts have said anecdotal evidence has shown inflamed blood vessels in the body caused by Covid could be causing erectile dysfunction in some male patients.
And this could show “other underlying vascular diseases” related to COVID-19.
Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio told the LA Times: “The blood vessels themselves that can become inflamed … could cause an obstructive phenomenon and negatively impact the ability to get erections.
“The most concerning thing here would be that erectile dysfunction related to the disease may be an indicator of other underlying vascular disease related to Covid.”
More evidence is needed before the link is proven as conclusive.
The research found “men who previously did not complain of ED [erectile dysfunction] developed pretty severe ED after the onset of Covid-19 infection”.
However, it only looked at four men – two who had been infected with the virus and two who had not.
If you think you have Long Covid and have had symptoms four weeks or more after having the virus, you should contact your GP.
At your appointment, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life.
They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.
These might include:
- blood tests
- checking your blood pressure and heart rate
- a chest X-ray
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