1. What is Long COVID?
Long COVID – or post-COVID conditions – is a wide range of new, returning or ongoing health problems people may experience more than four weeks after being first infected with SARS-CoV. Even people who did not have any symptoms or mild symptoms can experience long COVID, which can present as different types and combinations of health problems and can range in lengths of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Research set to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases later this month suggests that damage to the vagus nerve—which extends from the brain down the torso—is behind many Long COVID symptoms. After studying almost 350 patients with Long COVID, the researchers found that 66% had symptoms indicative of vagus nerve damage, including abnormal heart rate, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems.
2. Types of Long COVID
Long COVID can be broken down into three categories. COVID-19 itself has direct cell damage because of the virus and this can cause lingering symptoms.
This means that people with COVID-19 do not recover completely and have ongoing symptoms because of direct cell damage from the virus. That’s the first category.
The second category of Long COVID is when a person’s symptoms are related to chronic hospitalization. This is when someone is in the hospital, ICU, bed bound for weeks which inherently leads to muscle weakness, cognitive brain dysfunction. Psychosocial stress causing post-traumatic stress disorder-like syndrome, which is referred to as post-ICU care syndrome as a result of chronic hospitalization.
In a third category are those cases in which symptoms appear after recovery.
3. Am I imagining my symptoms?
The best way to determine the existence of physical and even mental symptoms, is by spending time with your doctor during a one-on-one consultation. But from some of the best studies that have been performed across the globe during the past two years, the following symptoms have emerged as “real” in the definition of Long COVID. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, also included are:
- abdominal pain or even loss of appetite
- other nervous system disorders e.g., anxiety, depression, insomnia
- dizziness or vertigo
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of taste and smell
- Cardiac symptoms including palpitations
- Respiratory symptoms are the most well-known and include shortness of breath
- Hair loss
- Skin rashes
4. What are my options?
As illustrated above, Long COVID presents as a cluster of symptoms and seeking care from your doctor is the recommended route. At German Heart Centre we are fortunate to have a specialist in the field of long COVID, Dr. Annie Varughese, Specialist Cardiologist. She recently started a series of seminars and her latest recording covers the topic of Post COVID and post vaccine impact on the cardiovascular system.
Dr. Annie will also be available for consultations from 7-21 May 2022. Why not book a consultation with her to discuss your symptoms?