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What is long COVID?

As we all start to come to terms with living our lives during a worldwide pandemic, more information is coming to light about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

With vaccinations being delivered across the UK, the future is looking more positive. But as more people became infected with COVID-19, you may have heard “long COVID” mentioned in the news.

If you’ve been wondering what this means, here are some facts about “long COVID” and the long-term effects of coronavirus.


The long-term effects of coronavirus and “long COVID”

The length of time it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everybody.

Some people will feel better after days or weeks, with research suggesting around one in five people have symptoms for five weeks or longer.

However, for around one in ten people, COVID-19 can cause symptoms that last 12 weeks or longer after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID".

The symptoms of “long COVID”

There are lots of symptoms that relate to COVID-19. Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • 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
  • rashes

How long does it take to recover from “long COVID”?

Currently, there is no way of knowing how long recovery from long COVID might take.

However, this isn’t unique to COVID-19. Other viral illnesses also have long-lasting effects.

Based on other viruses, most symptoms should go within three months, while tiredness may last for up to six months. But this may not apply to everyone.

Who is most likely to get “long COVID”?

A study of COVID Symptom Study app users found that older people are much more likely to get long COVID than younger people, although it does occur across all ages.

It was found to affect around 10% of 18-49-year olds, rising to 22% of over 70s.

Weight was also a factor, with people developing long COVID having a slightly higher average BMI than those with short COVID.

The research also found that people with asthma were more likely to develop long COVID.

What should I do if I have “long COVID”?

It’s important to note that long COVID is not contagious. The symptoms you might experience are due to your body’s response to the virus.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of long COVID, you should speak to your GP or healthcare professional.

The NHS has also set up Your COVID Recovery to provide information and support to those who've had COVID-19 and are still suffering with symptoms. And there are now calls for the condition to be recognised as an "occupational disease" for frontline workers.

To find out how our occupational health coronavirus services can help your business support its employees, contact us today.

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Categories: CoronavirusHealth & WellbeingOccupational Health

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