Long Covid

What is Long COVID?

Long covid refers to the phenomena where people continue to experience the effects of covid-19 for weeks or months. According to Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, if symptoms persist for 4-12 weeks, it should be regarded as post-covid acute syndrome, while if symptoms persist for longer than 12 weeks, it should be marked as long covid.

Who is at more risk of developing?

There is emerging evidence that some people who develop long Covid have similar symptoms to people with a condition known as postural tachycardia syndrome, or  postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS). This condition can cause dizziness when moving to an upright position and can be triggered by infections. The most common symptoms are feeling lightheaded, palpitations (being aware of your heartbeat) and fatigue.

There have been several case reports in medical journals of people who had continuing symptoms following Covid-19 infection, and some were found to have  PoTS. PoTs happens because your body’s ways of avoiding a drop in blood pressure when you stand up aren’t working properly.

Long Covid Symptoms:

  1. Two main groups of symptoms have been identified.
  2. One group includes respiratory symptoms such as cough and difficulty in breathing, as well as fatigue and headaches.
  3. The other includes symptoms affecting various parts of the body, including the heart, gut, and brain. Palpitation, pins and needles, increased heart beats, and numbness, as well as ‘brain fog’ were also reported.
  4. Anxiety and depression have been seen as fallouts of long covid, with survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).

What does this mean for India?

There is no clear data about how many people have long covid in India, but we can get an idea from the UK, which saw a strong second wave as well. According to Office for National Statistics estimates, 1.1 million people reported long covid symptoms in the four weeks ending 6 March. More than two-thirds of them had symptoms for more than 12 weeks. India’s case-load in the second wave shows that the numbers for people with long covid could be much higher. This can put more stress on the already strained healthcare infrastructure.

What should be done to help patients?

Recovery from covid-19 is counted as those who have not died from the virus. However, experts believe monitoring the health of those who have recovered for up to a year is required to make sure they are really out of danger.

Guleria has suggested rehabilitation of patients experiencing long covid and setting up of multidisciplinary post-covid clinics. Experts believe that for long covid survivors a multidisciplinary and multi-care approach would be needed because it can impact so many different organs.

Can long covid impact survivors mentally?

Anxiety and depression have been seen as fallouts of long covid, with survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry at the beginning of this year suggested that adults suffering from long covid are more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric conditions

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