Many people across the country are dealing with the aftermath of contracting COVID-19.
MPs have estimated up to 40,000 people are experiencing continuous COVID symptoms lasting weeks or months after the initial infection. The NHS is expected to see a million Long COVID patients after the pandemic. And this debilitating experience is leaving many people out of work, struggling with exhaustion, and unable to look after themselves.
So, how can we help? We have learnt a lot about COVID, how it affects our bodies, and the measures we can take to stop the spread. But there’s a lot of misinformation around Long COVID and how to identify it.
Here’s what you need to know.
Long COVID is a term given to long-term effects of coronavirus (COVID-19; it’s also known as post-COVID-19 syndrome. How long it takes to recover from COVID varies from person to person, but those still struggling after 12 weeks usually consider it a long-term condition. More recent data from the Office of National Statistics suggest that 10% of people who have had COVID-19 may experience ongoing symptoms.
Whether or not you experience Long COVID has nothing to do with the severity of your symptoms. Even those with mild symptoms can have long-term problems.
As it’s a relatively new condition, there’s a lot we’re still learning about Long COVID.
Long COVID is somewhat similar to post-viral fatigue. Exhaustion and breathlessness are quite common. For some, it feels like you’re constantly switching between getting better and getting worse. There’s a complex level of neurological issues associated with Long COVID.
There is also evidence that some with Long COVID experience organ damage.
Long COVID is a tough health battle to deal with. Mentally, it can really take a toll. There’s evidence of a ‘brain fog’ among Long COVID sufferers. This usually results in problems with memory or concentration, which means many are unable to work to the same level as they did before they caught COVID.
Anxiety and depression are high among Long COVID sufferers. It can be scary to go from otherwise healthy to suddenly unable to do the activities you used to do. Many young, fit people experience a complete loss in fitness levels.
Even early rehabilitation can trigger relapses in the condition, which makes recovery tricky.
So far, the UK Government has pledged £18.5 million to tackle Long COVID through research. It’s important to remember that Long COVID isn’t one condition. It varies in symptoms and new issues can pop up after months of recovery.
The implications of Long COVID on people’s wellbeing goes far beyond needing to rest occasionally. Sometimes the symptoms can be debilitating enough to need urgent medical care. Sometimes it’s hard to do anything outside of their homes.
This means a lot of people are on long-term sick leave from work due to Long COVID. And they need support to get through this difficult experience.
Our GPs are able to help manage and look after your Long COVID concerns. We’re constantly learning and adapting our care to each individual, to find the best way for them to manage their symptoms and start getting back to themselves. We’re here to listen to your concerns through your Long COVID experience.
Recovery from Long COVID isn’t always a straight trajectory. Symptoms fluctuate, things change – but new research will help us understand the condition more.
For now, we want to remind people that help is out there.
You can always speak to our GPs. They’re available 24/7 and here to work with patients on a case-by-case basis.