WHAT IS IT?
Long COVID, which is also now known as chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) is a condition encompassing the long-term complications caused by the one and only, coronavirus.
Long covid is often used to describe the signs and symptoms that continue after the period of time when an individual is testing positive for the virus. It can include both ongoing symptomatic covid, which is usually from 4-12 weeks, and post-covid syndrome, lasting 12 weeks or more.
It is still early days and more research is needed but currently we have the following data:
- Around 1 in 5 individuals who test positive for covid show symptoms for 5 weeks or longer
- Around 1 in 10 individuals who test positive for covid show symptoms for 12 weeks or longer
WHAT ARE LONG COVID SYMPTOMS?
The symptoms of long covid are entirely different for each person. All different age groups can suffer from long covid, and from the data, we have to date, there is no correlation with whether someone has an underlying condition or not. Many individuals who are young, fit and healthy have been impacted by long covid too.
A whole range of post-covid symptoms have been reported following the infection- These include:
- Chest pains
- Joint and muscle aches
- Loss of smell
- Brain fog
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive difficulties
The majority of individuals who suffered from covid symptoms whilst having the virus, managed to recover quickly, going back to their normal routines. However, for some the effects of covid will last weeks or months.
Certain experts have compared long covid with chronic fatigue syndrome, with an ongoing debate around genetics and variations of the virus playing a role in the short and long-term effects of the virus.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET OVER IT
Research is still needed on the exact length of recovery from long covid- due to its wide host of symptoms and individuality. The length of time it takes to recover will vary from person to person.
Research looking at other coronavirus strains, suggests that most long covid symptoms should go within 3 months, with fatigue and tiredness lasting up to 6 months. For a small percentage of individuals, recovery may take longer. (3)
HOW IS LONG COVID DIAGNOSED
Long covid definitions can be:
- An ongoing symptomatic covid for individuals who are still showing symptoms after 4-12 weeks after the start of acute symptoms showing
- Post covid-19 syndrome for people who are showing symptoms for longer than 12 weeks after the start of acute symptoms
The current tools used to investigate if an individual is suffering from long covid include:
- A full blood count
- Liver and kidney function tests
- C-reactive protein test- which is the key marker for inflammation
- Ferritin levels- showing iron deficiency
- Thyroid function
- Exercise tolerance test
- Chest x-ray- offered to individuals suffering after 12 weeks of infection with continuous respiratory symptoms
However many of the symptoms people feel with long covid are not measurable, and for some testing may come back with no answers for as to why they feel they way they do.
- Eat plenty of fruit and veggies- Aim for 5-10 servings daily to pack in as much plant variety into the diet as possible, this will enhance the gut microbiome.
- Opt for fibre- A minimum of 30-35g per day, try to get this in as much as possible through whole grains, legumes and pulses in the diet
- Choose fermented- fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha can really help to support the gut, which will benefit as gastrointestinal symptoms taking place
- Avoid highly processed foods with lots of added sugars, salt and saturated fats
- Keep calm- it’s important to switch off and take time out for yourself to lower and manage stress levels. Think yoga, meditation and gentle movement
- Take is slow – your body is recovering from a viral infection – let your body recover and give it the rest time it deserves.