Brain fog to insomnia, 10 long Covid symptoms that people still struggle with | Health - Hindustan Times
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Brain fog to sleep issues, 10 long Covid symptoms that people still struggle with

By, New Delhi
Dec 19, 2023 12:11 PM IST

As per Lancet, at least 65 million people are estimated to struggle with long Covid. Here are common symptoms from fatigue, brain fog to sleep trouble.

The threat of Covid-19 has massively shrunk in the past many months even as Omicron's multiple but mild variants continue to affect people in different parts of the world. While the Covid-19 isn't a global emergency anymore, long Covid, a syndrome with range of symptoms from fatigue to cognitive dysfunction linger on for years, affecting people of all ages including children. As per Lancet, at least 65 million people are estimated to struggle with long Covid. While people suffering from Covid recover within few weeks, long Covid can continue to affect 10-20% of people for several months or years. Lancet estimates that 1 in ten people who develop long Covid stop working, resulting in extensive economic losses. (Also read: Long Covid patients are much more likely to have multiple organ abnormalities)

It's essential to remember that Long Covid symptoms can vary widely in severity and presentation, with some individuals experiencing a few mild symptoms while others struggle with multiple, debilitating symptoms. (Pixabay)
It's essential to remember that Long Covid symptoms can vary widely in severity and presentation, with some individuals experiencing a few mild symptoms while others struggle with multiple, debilitating symptoms. (Pixabay)

"It's crucial to remember that Long Covid is not a monolithic entity. Each individual experiences a unique symptom constellation, and the respiratory manifestations can be interwoven with neurological, cognitive, and other non-respiratory symptoms. However, recognizing the prominence of these top respiratory issues allows us to prioritize research, develop targeted interventions, and offer effective support to the millions struggling with the long-term effects of this enigmatic virus," says Dr Nikhil Modi, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

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"It's essential to remember that Long Covid symptoms can vary widely in severity and presentation, with some individuals experiencing a few mild symptoms while others struggle with multiple, debilitating symptoms. The Lancet study's estimate of 65 million people with Long Covid highlights the immense global burden of this condition, emphasizing the need for further research, treatment development, and support systems for patients.

Ongoing research is looking into the underlying mechanisms of Long Covid, potential biomarkers for diagnosis, and effective treatment options," says Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.

Top long Covid symptoms

The top long Covid symptoms remain a complex tapestry, but some stand out as particularly prevalent and impactful.

"At the forefront is breathlessness, a debilitating symptom that can range from mild, exercise-induced tightness to severe, oxygen-depriving episodes. This persistent shortness of breath, often coupled with chest tightness and fatigue, can significantly limit daily activities and fuel anxiety, affecting both physical and mental well-being. Another prominent symptom cluster involves post-exertional malaise (PEM), a debilitating fatigue that worsens with even minimal exertion. This can leave individuals feeling 'floored' after even simple tasks, further restricting their daily lives and adding to the frustration of this unpredictable condition. Additionally, cough and voice changes persist in some Long Covid patients, offering a constant reminder of the respiratory impact of the initial infection," says Dr Modi.

Dr Shuchin Bajaj explains the long Covid symptoms people may still be struggling with.

1. Fatigue: Persistent and debilitating tiredness is consistently the most common symptom, affecting over 90% of those with Long Covid.

2. Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or laboured breathing, even after minimal exertion, is experienced by a substantial portion of long-haulers.

3. Brain fog: Cognitive difficulties like memory problems, trouble concentrating, and mental fatigue are reported by many, impacting daily life and work.

4. Muscle pain and joint pain: Widespread or localized aches and pains are frequently observed, impacting mobility and quality of life.

5. Loss of smell and taste: While some regain these senses over time, some continue to experience partial or complete loss.

6. Sleep problems: Insomnia, restless sleep, and sleep disturbances are common, further contributing to fatigue and other symptoms.

7. Headaches: Persistent headaches, sometimes pulsating or migraine-like, can be a significant bother for many with Long Covid.

8. Heart palpitations and chest pain: Rapid or irregular heartbeat and chest discomfort can be concerning, but reassurance may be found in thorough cardiac evaluation.

9. Digestive issues: Diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal pain are reported by some individuals, potentially linked to gut microbiota changes.

10. Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, depression, and mood swings are prevalent, likely exacerbated by the chronic nature of the condition and its impact on daily life.

"If you're experiencing any persistent symptoms after Covid-19 infection, consult your doctor for a thorough evaluation and guidance. Joining support groups and communities for long Covid patients can provide valuable connection, resources, and emotional support. Practicing self-care strategies like managing stress, getting enough sleep, and focusing on healthy habits can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being," concludes Dr Bajaj.

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