The term “long Covid” refers to the effects of Covid-19 that last for several weeks or months after the initial illness. Chronic Covid post-acute Covid-19, and long Covid are just a few of the names given to long Covid. It’s a broad term that refers to the variety of ongoing health issues that people may experience following an infection. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) describes someone with ‘long Covid’ as: experiencing Covid-19 symptoms 4-12 weeks after infection or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms and other unexplainable symptoms by an alternative diagnosis 12 weeks or over after infection.
Who is likely to get Covid?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts that between 3 and 12% of those contracting Covid will experience symptoms 12 weeks after contracting the illness. It’s important to remember that these projections were created before Omicron overtook other variants in the UK. People with Omicron were less likely than those with the Delta variant of Covid-19 to develop long Covid, according to a study from the ZOE Symptom Study App that was published in June 2022.
According to the ONS study, the prevalence of long Covid was highest in people aged 35 to 69. Additionally, it was discovered that those who reported having a long Covid were more likely to be females, residents of low-income areas, and people with a health issue or disability that prevented them from exercising.
Different groups reported different lengths of Covid symptoms, which was also noticed. While breathing problems and cognitive impairments are more frequently reported by men and people over 65, younger people and females are more likely to experience chronic headaches, abdominal symptoms, and anxiety.
What should you do if you have a long Covid?
Patients who go through what can seem like an endless series of check-ups and lab tests to confirm a long Covid diagnosis face an even more difficult task: determining where to go for care. According to experts, the available treatments for this condition are as complex and diverse as their symptoms. Additionally, there aren’t any well-defined, evidence-based clinical best practises or guidelines to guide patients or their doctors in the right direction. To tackle this, NHS England announced plans for Long Covid clinics in October 2020, ensuring that patients referred to the clinic by their GP have access to specialist care.
How do I get to the Long Covid Clinic in my area?
If you have any of the symptoms listed on the NHS guidance pages. Please contact your primary care physician for further evaluation. Ideally, the patient’s primary care provider should be the first port of call. Your physician will inquire into your symptoms and how they affect your life. They may recommend some tests to learn more about your symptoms and rule out other possible causes. However, given the lengthy list of symptoms that can result from long Covid, including fatigue and “brain fog,” chest pain, fever, or rash, a long Covid clinic may be the best option for patients who can access one. Your doctor there will discuss the care and support you may require, or you may be given instructions for managing and monitoring your symptoms at home.
Summing it up
Clear discussions between doctors and patients about the potential risks and benefits of suggested treatment plans are also essential, given that long Covid is so new and that a number of interventions for the condition have not yet been proven.
And, whether patients stay with their primary care provider or transfer to a long Covid centre for care, they should reconsider their options if their recovery stalls. If the person you’re seeing is willing to continue working with you and has the next steps in the treatment plan if their initial treatment is ineffective, this indicates good care.