Most people who become infected with COVID-19 have common symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing problems, and recover after a week or two. But some people, approximately 10-30% of people infected with COVID-19, suffer from persistent symptoms known as “prolonged COVID.”
Why do some people recover quickly while others have symptoms for months? The answer to this question is one of the main challenges in ending the pandemic. While there is still no definitive answer, there are some key theories according to researchers around the world, reports abcnews.al
What is Covid Elongated?
There is no exact definition of what “extended Covid” is because it is a new phenomenon. Most refer to a term to describe the situation when people experience a series of persistent symptoms after COVID-19.
The most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, headache, muscle aches, and insomnia. But it can also include other symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, depression and inability to work and interact with society. It is as if there is a process that affects every part of their body.
Despite the specific symptoms, many patients are troubled by the infection along with fear and disappointment that they are not improving. To date there is no specific test to explain the symptoms after COVID. This means that in most patients, the symptoms after Covid-19 are probably related to a complex interaction of physical and psychological processes that arose after the sudden inflammation caused by the infection.
Number of people suffering from “Prolonged Covid”
It is very difficult to determine which proportion of people infected with COVID have persistent symptoms. At this stage we do not know the exact rate. According to a study 34% of participants had symptoms even during the 45 weeks after diagnosis.
But the study is community-based and does not measure the overall prevalence of health status in the general population. Data are still under review and various sources cite different levels. It depends on how the researchers recruited and studied the participants.
According to the World Health Organization 10% suffer from prolonged Covid, while a study from Britain has found that 30% suffer from post-Covid symptoms. The percentage of people affected is likely to be different in different countries, reports abcnews.al
Many doctors are still unaware of prolonged Covid. A “complete population survey” is needed to determine the approximate scale. This means a group who have been infected with COVID and screening how many of them have symptoms after Covid-19.
How can it be treated?
Treating prolonged Covid is a challenge as there are no clinical tests to determine if someone is suffering from post-Covid symptoms and there is still no standard treatment. People with mild symptoms may not need treatment but only information.
Others with more severe or persistent symptoms need more. Offering clinical care supported by a coordinated team of specialists, clinics should enable patients to receive the best care available without the burden of multiple independent consultations.
These clinics use a holistic approach and build knowledge on the best strategies to treat prolonged Covid. They include teams of specialists such as rheumatologists, immunologists, physiotherapists and in some cases, psychologists and psychiatrists.
For most people, the results are positive. After nine months, half of the patients have returned to normal activities. However, there is a group of patients whose recovery is slower.
It is essential that they acknowledge the persistent symptoms they have, and receive support from their family, employer and medical team.
What causes prolonged COVID?
We do not yet know why some people have symptoms after Covid while others recover a few weeks after being infected. Prolonged covid may be due to the load on the human immune system after infection.
One clue supporting this theory is that some people suffering from prolonged COVID said that their symptoms improved significantly after anti-Covid vaccination. This shows that the various symptoms of prolonged COVID are directly related to our immune system, reports abcnews.al
There is a possibility that the vaccine can help our immune system by activating immune cells like T cells. Another theory is that people suffering from prolonged Covid have a “viral reservoir” that is not distinguishable in diagnostic tests.
These reservoirs are not infectious but can continuously activate the immune system. A vaccine can help the immune system clear the remaining virus. It is not certain whether a vaccine can be most effective in eliminating prolonged Covid but there is no evidence that it could have negative consequences, reports abcnews.al
But in fact if it manages to affect the symptoms after Covid it is likely to improve the effects on the immune system. Or the elongated Covid can be a combination of both. In fact there is still a need for more research, as they are still in the early stages.
There is still no treatment, but people with prolonged Covid symptoms need support and encouragement to be vaccinated. abcnews