For most people, Covid-19 disease (caused by the emerging corona virus) is nothing more than a short-lived mild disease. However, some sufferers experience symptoms such as fatigue, fatigue, pain and shortness of breath, for several months after their injury.
This condition, called “long-term Covid”, would have a debilitating effect on the lives of those afflicted with it, and it is now common to hear stories telling of the suffering of those suffering from severe exhaustion even after walking very short distances.
So far, the focus has been on saving the lives of those infected during the outbreak of the Coronavirus, but there is a growing awareness that those infected with the virus may face severe and long-term consequences.
But even the basic questions related to this topic, such as the underlying cause of long-term COVID-19 for some and the likelihood of all those infected with the disease recovering, remain shrouded in mystery.
What is a long-term Covid?
There is no exact medical definition of this phenomenon, or any specific list of symptoms that sufferers suffer from, as two people with long-term COVID-19 can experience completely different experiences.
But the most common common factor is a persistent feeling of extreme fatigue.
Other symptoms that sufferers may suffer from are: shortness of breath, persistent cough, joint and muscle pain, problems with hearing and vision, headache, loss of sense of smell and taste, in addition to damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and intestines.
Affected persons may suffer from psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and thinking difficulties.
It is possible that these symptoms combine to destroy the lives of those who suffer from them. For example, Jade Gray Christie, who suffers from this disease, says, “I have never told a feeling of exhaustion as I feel today.”
“Long-term Covid” is not just a period of recovery that a patient goes through after being in the intensive care ward for some period. Even those who develop a mild form of the disease may still face serious, long-term problems.
“We have no doubt about the existence of a long-term Covid phenomenon,” says Professor David Strain, from the University of Exeter, in southern England, and follows in the chronic fatigue syndrome clinic run by patients complaining of this phenomenon.
How many of the injured suffer from this phenomenon?
A study conducted in the largest hospital in the Italian capital, Rome, and its results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracked 143 injured cases after they were discharged.
The study showed that 87 percent of these people were still suffering from at least one symptom, about two months after they were discharged from hospital, while half of them complained of fatigue.
But these studies focus on the minority who end up needing hospital treatment.
By analyzing the results contained in the Covid Tracker App, which is used by about 4 million people in Britain, it was found that 12 percent of people with Covid-19 still suffer from symptoms after 30 days.
The figures obtained through the application – which have not yet been published – indicate that one person in 50 suffers from symptoms after the elapse of 90 days.
Is it necessary for a patient to be infected with a long-term covid?
It does not look like it.
Half of the participants in a study conducted in the Irish capital Dublin said that they still feel tired after 10 weeks of infection with the Coronavirus, and a third of them said that they cannot return to work because of the severity of exhaustion they feel.
The doctors were unable to infer any relationship between the severity of infection with the virus and the fatigue that those infected continue to feel.
But it is important to note that fatigue is not a symptom of long-term COVID-19.
University of Leicester professor Chris Breitling, who heads a project to track the symmetry of people with Covid-19, believes that those who develop pneumonia due to their infection with the Corona virus are more likely to develop long-term Covid due to the damage to their lungs.
How does the virus cause long-term covid?
There are many ideas and propositions, but there are no definite answers to this question.
It may be due to the virus remaining in small pockets, although it has disappeared from most parts of the body.
Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London says, “If the patient suffers from long-term diarrhea, you will find the virus in his intestine, and if he complains of a loss of smell, then the virus is still present in his nerves, it is possible that the survival of the virus is the basis of the problem.” .
Coronavirus can infect a wide range of cells in the body, which results in a strong immune response that in turn causes damage to the entire body.
Some experts believe that the immune system does not return to its normal state after infection with Covid, and that this is the reason for the illness that many people feel after they recover.
Also, infection with the virus may lead to changes in the work of various body systems, and this appears clearly in the lungs if they are affected by fibrosis. Long-term problems have already been seen in people with SARS and MERS, which are also caused by corona viruses.
But Covid may also cause changes in the metabolism process, as there have been cases in which some people face great difficulties in controlling their blood sugar levels after they contracted diabetes due to infection with Covid, and SARS infection caused changes in the way the body represents fat that lasted for 12 years. the least.
There are preliminary indications of changes in brain structure, but this topic is still a subject of research.
Covid 19 also causes strange changes in the blood, including changes in clotting and damage to blood vessels.
“The theory that I am working on is that the small blood vessels that deliver oxygen and food to the various tissues of the body may age before their time,” Professor Strain told the BBC. But he warns that unless we find the true cause of long-term Covid, it will be difficult to find an effective treatment for it.
Is this strange?
Continuing to suffer from fatigue and coughing after contracting any viral disease is a known, documented and common phenomenon, and we may all have a disease from which a full recovery took a long time.
About 10 percent of those who previously had glandular fever continued to complain of fatigue for several months. There are those who say that there is a relationship between having influenza – especially after the outbreak of the epidemic in 1918 – and having symptoms that resemble those of Parkinson’s disease.
“It seems that the symptoms are widespread and the number of infected people is much greater in the case of Covid 19,” Professor Brightling says.
He adds that the focus should be on the phrase “appears”, as we will not be able to say how common these symptoms are unless we know the exact number of sufferers. ”
He told the BBC, “It seems that the unique way this virus attacks humans and then the different ways in which it changes the behavior of body cells lead to infections that are more severe than those caused by other viruses, in addition to having persistent symptoms.”
Are injured people cured?
The number of people with long-term COVID-19 appears to be decreasing over time.
But the virus did not appear for the first time until late 2019, before spreading to all parts of the world early this year, and therefore there are no long-term figures available.
“We have asked, with urgency, to follow the injured for 25 years, and I certainly hope that the sufferers will not continue to suffer from symptoms for a period of more than one year, but I may be wrong,” Professor Braitling said.
But there are concerns that although the injured appear to be recovering now, they may face risks for their entire lives.
Those who have had chronic fatigue syndrome once may become infected again, and there are concerns that future infections with Covid may also lead to an increase in those suffering from long-term Covid.
Professor Strain said, “If a long-term Covid continues its current course, I expect many of the infected people to be cured, but if another strain of Corona virus spreads, we will see the spread of this phenomenon every winter season.”
Other problems may arise in the future.
The World Health Organization has warned that severe infections caused by the Corona virus may lead to people developing heart problems at younger ages.
What should I do if I think I have long-term COVID-19?
The British health insurance system has put in place an “action plan for recovery from Covid” that includes advice and guidance specifically for those who need hospital treatment.
The action plan recommends following three tips in order for the patient to maintain his energy, namely:
Don’t exert too much, and make sure you get enough rest.
Plan your day so that the activities most in need of effort are distributed over the days of the week.
Think about your priorities, what activities you will need to do and what activities you can do without.
The plan also advises you to see the hospital or doctor if recovery from Covid disease takes longer than expected.