Long covid or post covid syndrome is becoming an increasingly familiar presentation in doctor’s clinics and specialist fatigue services in the UK and around the world. Long covid is a fairly good description of what it is, as it follows on from the initial covid infection, but instead of affecting the chest and respiratory system, long covid’s primary symptoms are muscle pain, deep tiredness and fatigue, and, often, brain fog.
Dr Phil Parker, a researcher and lecturer at London Met University answers your questions about this illness, its prognosis and the potential solutions available in this video. He also explains the current research into the illness and describes the most common symptoms.
What are some of the long-term effects of COVID-19?
NHS includes a long list of potential symptoms, these 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
Diagnosis of long covid
The illness is a consequence of prior covid infection. However, diagnosis is complicated by the fact that in the early stages of the Covid pandemic effective testing was not routinely available and many cases were difficult to confirm. The NICE guidelines define post-COVID-19 (“Long COVID”) as ongoing symptoms in people who “have had suspected or confirmed acute COVID-19 and present to any healthcare setting, irrespective of whether they were hospitalised or had a positive or negative SARS‑CoV‑2 test (PCR, antigen or antibody).[https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng188].
And you don’t have to have all the symptoms to obtain a diagnosis and of course, some of these can be symptoms of other conditions. If in doubt contact your GP to ensure you get the correct diagnosis.
How long does it take to recover from COVID-19?
Post viral issues after pandemics are not new, with reported cases showing up in the research and documents relating to earlier epidemics (1918 Spanish flu, SARS and Ebola). The concern is that history may repeat itself as, after those outbreaks, a significant number of those who survived the illness then went on to get long-term symptoms, as are be in currently reported. In the case of Spanish flu it was reported that only 50% of people who recover from the Spanish flu but well enough to ever return to work.
This concern presents potential problems for those providing services for long covid. We are all hopeful that there will be an increase in government funding and an interest in funding research into finding effective solutions to what has the potential to be a devastating post epidemic illness.
Research into the Lightning Process and Long Covid
As there is a body of research supporting its efficacy with fatigue and pain (see the systematic review), these issues have been instrumental in the Lightning Process research group beginning a study focused on discovering if the Lightning Process can help reduce the time it takes to return to work and wellness for those with long covid. The early findings are promising (see cases here) and we hope to have research published soon.