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About 3 years ago the whole came to a standstill due to the emergence of the coronavirus and Covid 19 disease. The active cases of this disease have significantly gone down owing to aggressive vaccination strategies and natural immunity. We are however still faced with a large number of patients presenting with sequalae of Covid – 19, termed as Long Covid.
Long Covid is occurs in individuals with probable or confirmed Coronavirus disease (Covid19), usually 3 months from the onset of the disease. The symptoms should last for more than 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. These symptoms may be new following recovery from an acute infection, or they may persist from the original infection. It is also worth noting that these symptoms may fluctuate or relapse over time.
People with Long covid have a wide range of symptoms. They may have general symptoms which include fatigue, post exertional malaise and fever. The extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms and its often-debilitating and affects quality of life. This fatigue often gets worse after minimal exercise or any mental effort.
Other common symptoms include lung and heart problems. Patient often experience shortness of breath, persistent cough and chest pains. Some people may experience a fast beating or pounding heartbeat, known as palpitations. This can be quite disturbing to patients.
Some people with Long covid have some neurological symptoms. These include difficulty thinking or concentrating, a phenomenon termed brain fog. They may also have some dizziness or light headedness which is particularly worse on standing and is often accompanied by headache. Other people experience pins and needles which are in the hands and feet. Long Covid suffers often have difficulty sleeping and may have features of anxiety and depression.
It is difficult to predict who will get Long Covid or not. Long Covid can happen in anyone regardless of their underlying risk factors or the severity of their infection. The best way to prevent long covid is by preventing getting Covid19 itself. There is some evidence that vaccination can help reduce some of the symptoms of Long Covid.
There is no specific treatment for Long Covid. There are ongoing trials to test various drugs and interventions to manage this condition. The management of this condition often requires a multidisciplinary approach in order to manage the different facets of this condition. Key to the management is graded exercises, breathing exercises, physical therapy and some medications to address specific symptoms. Recovery is possible but it’s often a long process. There are some support groups available online and on social media where people share ideas and experiences on how to tackle this rather debilitating problem.