Long COVID: Causes, Symptoms, Precautions, And Treatment
Posted On: July 1, 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on the health of millions of people around the world. Though many people have completely recovered almost entirely within a short period, many individuals have complained of lingering symptoms, even long after they test negative for the virus.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is the term that is increasingly used to define this condition where some symptoms may stretch for more than eight weeks. The symptoms considered in Long COVID broadly fall into two categories - respiratory and the other related to the heart, brain, or the gut.
Doctors at Shalby Hospital say that Long COVID is primarily the body's reaction to the virus that has produced long-term conditions in the body. People are mostly virus-free during Long COVID. Thus the medical situation is not contagious like COVID in its initial stages. The body can have various reactions to the virus, including cytokine storms that can affect multiple organs of the body, including the lungs, kidneys, heart, and brain. These are majorly the main organs that get affected by the condition. However, other organs can also get affected during Long COVID.
What are the symptoms of long COVID?
Symptoms of Long COVID, as mentioned earlier, are of two types which include respiratory symptoms that are associated primarily with the pulmonary aspect. The other kind of symptoms stems from other vital organs being affected, like the heart, brain, or kidney. The symptoms can include –
- Chest pains
- Muscle or joint pains
- Anxiety and depression
- Brain fog. This condition is the inability of a person to think rationally and straight
How does the duration vary?
Some people may experience symptoms for a few months, while some might experience symptoms for over a year. The condition is still undergoing research by doctors and scientists, and there is not yet a clear understanding of how long it can affect people. The risk associated with the development of the symptoms for Long COVID has been noticed in a large number of people. Statistically, people between the age of 18 and 49 years, showed only ten percent incidence, whereas in those above 70 years, the incidence rate increased to almost 22 percent. People with co-morbidity like Type-2 diabetes, hypertension also showed higher incidence rates.
Is there any way to prevent long COVID?
The precautions for long COVID are the same precautions that have been advocated for so long since the disease began. To avoid being affected by Long COVID, people must avoid being affected by COVID. So they should maintain physical distancing, maintain good hand hygiene and avoid touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. They should use masks whenever they go outside and use hand sanitizers or wash hands frequently with soap and water. Now, with the availability of vaccines, it is always advisable to get vaccinated as early as possible to reduce the risk of catching the disease, or even if they contract it, the severity will be considerably less, reducing the risk of developing Long COVID substantially.
What are the treatment options for long COVID?
Doctors have shared various tips that can help increase the likelihood of recovering faster from Long COVID. These include -
- Breaking work into smaller chunks
- Based on their energy levels deciding which work to do at what time
- Taking frequent short periods of rest can help improve energy
- Keeping active is advisable else muscle weakness can happen in the long term
- Mood swings are common, and people must try to keep themselves happy as much as possible
- Various flexibility exercises like Yoga, Tai chi, and more may be beneficial for overall well being
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