Long COVID is a condition in which the person suffers from lingering symptoms of this global pandemic. Long COVID tends to affect people of all ages, gender, and ethnicity but those who are more prone to various health complications might be at a greater risk of such issues. It also tends to affect people who are otherwise healthy.
From people who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 to people who have had some mild infections, all are at greater risk of long COVID. If a person is suspecting a COVID-19 infection then a PCR test might be recommended by the doctors.
According to several kinds of research, more than a bunch of people that suffer from COVID-19 and can recover from it might suffer from persistent symptoms. These symptoms might become visible after a span of 6 months or later than that. This is what is known as Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19.
Symptoms of Long COVID-19
Some of the common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are as follows:
- Severe pain and chest
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Loss of taste or appetite
- Loss of sense of smell
- Mental confusion
- Mental fatigue
- Trouble in concentration
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
Although the causes of Long COVID-19 are still not known to mankind, it has been speculated that viral infection and mental issues such as stress and being jobless can greatly affect a person and put them at risk of acquiring long COVID.
Some risk factors for Long COVID-19 are given below:
- Nerve damage
- The lingering presence of virus in the bloodstream or body
- Low levels of oxygen in the body then lead to severe tissue damage
The Recent Study
There has been a recent study conducted in Italy that suggests that various different types of variants can lead to particular symptoms of long COVID.
This groundbreaking study has not been published yet, but it was conducted by researchers at the University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital in Florence. At the end of this month, this study will get presented at the esteemed European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
A Look Back at the Lingering Symptoms and the Role that They Play
The research study group consisted of 428 people out of which 254 were men and 174 were women. The age group was mostly 64 years of age and all of them had one thing in common a prior COVID-19 infection.
A questionnaire was designed which was then presented to the patients regarding the persistent symptoms and their history. A total of 76% of the people had at least one symptom which can be best described as an ongoing symptom. The common symptoms that kept on repeating were shortness of breath and fatigue. Some of the participants also complained about visual issues, sleep apnea, and brain fog.
Another thing that came to the surface in the study was that those participants whose treatments included immunosuppressant drugs were at risk of developing Long COVID 6 times more than the others. Also, those patients who were given supplemental oxygen were 40% most likely to complain about these symptoms.
Link to the Variants
When the patients of various variants such as Alpha and B.1.17 were compared with one another, it became apparent that there do exist some differences that are too hard to ignore.
Those patients who recovered from the Alpha variant continuously complained regarding the lingering symptoms of muscle ache, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. In those patients, some other issues such as loss of smell, loss of sense of taste, and impaired hearing were less common. Dr. Michele Spinicci, MD who led the study said that
“Many of the symptoms reported in this study have been measured, but this is the first time they have been linked to different COVID-19 variants,”
But one huge limitation which needs to be factored before but the researchers were unable to cater it was that they could not pinpoint which variant affected which patient.
The Complexities of the Research
Thus it is pertinent to report here that there can be various other factors despite lingering symptoms that might affect the SARS-CoV-2 infection. David Strain who is a senior clinical lecturer said that “We are seeing different symptoms as we go through the pandemic but I think it is more complex than variants,”
He further went on to say that “The long COVID symptoms we are getting from BA.2 [the “stealth” variant of Omicron] are different from those we saw in Delta, but that is not surprising given that the disease itself is different from BA.2,”
In addition to all this, it is inevitable to note here that the type of treatment also plays a significant role in the lingering symptoms which might then culminate into what we commonly know as Long Covid.