One in ten coronavirus survivors suffer ‘long Covid’

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) research found around 10 per cent of Covid survivors continue to suffer from long Covid at least three months after clearing the disease.

The most common issue was fatigue, followed by breathlessness and ‘brain fog’, but more serious symptoms included organ damage, anxiety and depression.

Some people claimed that their loss of taste and smell still hadn’t returned fully a year on.

The NIHR said a ‘lack of consistency around the definition and measurement of Long Covid’ makes it difficult to pin down exactly what the condition is.

Most coronavirus patients will recover within a fortnight, suffering a fever, cough and losing their sense of smell or taste for several days.

However, evidence is beginning to show that the tell-tale symptoms of the virus can persist for weeks on end in ‘long haulers’ which is the term being used for patients plagued by lasting complications.

The best thing to do if you get Covid is to take it easy and not push yourself too hard because that can make things much worse, according to one of Britain’s top long Covid doctors.

Dr Whitaker, a respiratory consultant at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said ‘the temptation for many is to put on a brave face and battle through, but that is likely to increase the risk of developing long Covid – and of making its symptoms longer and more severe, according to Paul Whitaker, the doctor in charge of one of the UK’s first specialist long Covid clinics, in Bradford.’

‘Although it can be difficult to rest for any length of time that is by far the best medicine if it can be done’ he explained.’

Dr Whitaker, Bradford Teaching Hospitals

He also warns people away off ‘unhelpful dietary tips from social media, such as fasting and other extreme diets, which can be very harmful.’

Instead, long Covid patients should eat plenty of protein to build up wasting muscles and plenty of fruit and veg, he advises.

“Long Covid is really all about resting. You can take steps to fix the things we can fix with good nutrition, paying attention to mental health, and doing things to build up muscle strength – not physical exertion but static muscle building. And for the rest of it you should just allow the body to recover rather than pushing it too hard,” said Dr Whitaker, who has treated about 200 long Covid patients since setting up the clinic last May.

“With these patients you can’t physically push them. If you say ‘let’s walk 100 metres today and next week 200 metres’, they will do worse,” he said.

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