Recent research has revealed that a staggering number of people have suffered with lasting coronavirus symptoms months after first being infected.

Long COVID refers to a disease that can affect a number of the body’s systems some time after the onset of initial COVID-19 symptoms. People who have mild symptoms can still get Long COVID.

What are the symptoms of Long COVID?

Long COVID is diagnosed when people experience persistent symptoms for longer than three months after the initial infection.

Common symptoms of Long COVID include:

  • Fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart tremors
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Joint ache

Additionally, differences to taste and smell are typical symptoms of the condition.

Research by academics from University College London (UCL) highlighted a total of 200 symptoms for Long COVID, impacting ten different organs.

Some of the Long COVID symptoms identified by the UCL team include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Eyesight changes
  • Hearing problems
  • Temporary cognitive impairment
  • Speech loss

Additional studies have indicated that gastro-intestinal and bladder complications, changes to the menstrual cycle and skin disorders are also signs of Long COVID.

Reports have shown that some people with Long COVID struggle to carry out simple errands, such as washing themselves and doing the food shop. Long COVID has also caused some people to forget words.

What causes Long COVID?

The condition is often caused when a person’s immune system damages the body’s own tissues when trying to kill the virus.

Impaired cells can trigger temporary cognitive decline and changes to key senses, such as taste and smell. Damaged blood vessels tend to cause cardiovascular, lung and neurological complications.

Some scientists believe another cause of Long COVID is potential virus remaining in the body and being reenergised.

This theory is evident with other infections, such as herpes and the Epstein Barr virus which triggers glandular fever.

How common is it?

New research has found that Long COVID impacts women more than men, and it is more prevalent in older people compared to children.

Long COVID is more common in those who were seriously ill with the virus in the first place, but scientists have warned that anybody can still be diagnosed with the condition.

Five percent of sixty-year-olds who have had the virus are later diagnosed with Long COVID, while only two percent of twenty-year-olds later go on to experience lasting symptoms, new analysis has found.

Researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “One to two percent of 100,000 cases a day is a lot of people.”

Experts have said that more young people in the future will be diagnosed with Long COVID. However, academics have debunked rumours of children being at a greater risk of having lasting coronavirus symptoms.

Currently, no treatment options are available for Long COVID, but vaccinations are believed to improve outcomes.

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