What are the long-term effects of ‘long COVID’? – study

Written by on August 14, 2021

On average, one of five COVID-19 patients suffers from “long COVID” five weeks after infection, one of seven suffer from it 12 weeks after infection, and one in 10 still exhibit “long COVID” symptoms a year later, a recent study published in medRxiv has found.

The pre-print study, conducted in the UK, included 50 participants who had reported persistent neurological problems after being infected with COVID-19.

“Long COVID” has been defined by medical experts as a “condition of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, where symptoms persist between 4 and 12 weeks post-infection.”

Patients who continue to suffer from symptoms after 12 weeks are defined as having “chronic COVID-19” disease.

The study focused on what many patients described as “brain fog,” which included short-term memory and attention disorders and a “general befuddled state of mind.”

The participants described their brain fog in differing ways. Some suffered from it more than others, and for some, the “fog” disappeared as time went on. 

The participants described a wide variety of cognitive and functional impairments, such as problems with planning, decision-making, and flexibility, had shorter attention spans, and sometimes even experienced long-term memory loss.

The participants also described profound psychological and social problems that began because of their symptoms.

Those who returned to work had to have their roles downgraded, and suffered from anxiety and self-doubt, loss of self-worth, and feelings of guilt and shame.

“In dealing with COVID-19, it is crucial that health policy begins to shift from acute disaster response to managing a chronic crisis,” the researchers noted.

“The profoundly disabling, persistent impacts in some people revealed here adds weight to arguments that we need to prevent COVID -19 to reduce the long-term burden of this disease on patients, the health service, and the wider economy,” they wrote.

The researchers concluded that “the best approaches to support cognitive, psychological, and occupational restoration” should be explored.

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