With news that the UK government’s borrowing has soared to record highs during the pandemic, creating the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since the 1960s, it is clear that the financial cost of COVID-19 will be huge. But, what will the cost be to our health?
For many, catching COVID means a brush with a brief, mild illness and some may not experience any symptoms at all. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that some sufferers, even those that experienced a relatively mild initial infection, are left struggling to cope with a whole array of symptoms for many months afterwards.
Dubbed Long COVID, this condition can have a debilitating effect on people’s health, quality of life and mental wellbeing.
What is Long COVID?
As it is such a new phenomenon and our understanding is based mainly on anecdotal evidence, there is currently no medical definition for Long COVID. This is further compounded because individual patients can experience very different symptoms.
One of the most common symptoms seems to be extreme fatigue. Others include persistent cough, breathlessness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, loss of sense and smell and hearing and eyesight problems. Damage to the hearts, lungs, kidneys, liver and gut can also result.
Living with Long COVID
Our understanding of Long COVID is ever-evolving and a new study recently published in the British Medical Journal posits that it could actually be four separate syndromes.
- permanent organ damage to the lungs and heart
- post-intensive-care syndrome
- post-viral fatigue syndrome
- continuing COVID-19 symptoms
A team of researchers and doctors at the National Institute for Health Research reviewed current evidence and interviewed post-hospitalised and non-hospitalised patients. They concluded that coming up with a “working diagnosis for ongoing COVID-19” would help people access support.
At The Tyburn, Dr Adam Hazell is already assisting patients suffering from Long COVID to manage their daily lives or help them return to work. This is done by assessing the physical and psychological aspects of the illness and the impact it has on the patient’s work capacity and activities of daily living.