Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children
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Conducted by researchers from Italy and the UK, a new study has sought to understand how long some symptoms of COVID-19 last for.
Specifically, the authors wanted to know how long it takes for mildly symptomatic patients to recover from some of the early symptoms of COVID-19, namely a lost of sense of taste and smell.
The study concluded most patients recovered their sense of smell within two years.
In discussion of their study, they wrote: “88.2% of patients reporting a COVID-19–related smell or taste dysfunction completely recovered within 2 years. A late recovery was observed in 10.9% of patients.”
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Although close to 90 percent of patients recovered their sense of smell, these patients still had to endure two years without it, an experience which for some may have proved extremely challenging.
What is the long Covid situation in the UK?
The situation in the UK is one fully of uncertainty and concern. Estimates from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) estimate there are over two million people in the UK living with long Covid.
These patients vary in the severity of their symptoms. Some patients can continue to work effectively at their jobs whilst other are bedridden or unable to work.
One of the most baffling elements of long Covid for scientists is not just the varying severity of symptoms but also the variety of symptoms, with some estimates that there could be over 200.
Why is there such a large list of symptoms?
The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, each new mutation of COVID-19 brings with it a new variant. Each variant causes different short term symptoms and therefore has the potential to cause different long term symptoms as well.
This change in variant was one of the caveats listed by the authors for their study; they stated several limitations and noted the data was taken for patients infected before the arrival of Omicron.
Furthermore, other study limitations listed by the authors included:
• Data was self-reported
• A psychological evaluation of the chemosensory function was not performed
• The sample size was relatively small and geographically limited
• Patients with more severe symptoms were not included
• Data for chemosensory treatments was lacking.
As a result, the study is not considered definitive, but rather forms part of wider research in long Covid.
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Should we be worried about long Covid?
This answer depends on who one talks to. As it is difficult to predict who will get long Covid after a Covid infection, it is unwise for people who aren’t infected with Covid to worry.
While are treatments for COVID-19, there are very few treatments for long Covid, a condition scientists are still trying to understand.
Furthermore, these scientists have strong reason to believe that long Covid should be a concern to governments and their health systems.
Long Covid is a long-term chronic condition, one that requires delicate and precise management over a long period of time.
As patient numbers grow, more and more people will need support and treatment; this will inevitably put increased pressure on health services around the globe..
Subsequently, scientists are advocating for more investment into long Covid clinics and cardiovascular departments so health services can cope with patient numbers.
It is considered that the sooner this is done, the better the treatment available to long Covid patients of the present and future will be.
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