What is long Covid – and what are the symptoms to watch out for?

New figures suggest that around 1.3 million people in the UK are suffering from long Covid, amid concern about the possible long-term effects of the coronavirus.

According to a survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics, 70% (892,000) of those experiencing long Covid first contracted the virus at least 12 weeks ago, while 40% (506,000) caught it at least a year ago.

So what exactly is long Covid – and what are the symptoms to watch out for?

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What is long Covid?

Long Covid is the term commonly used to describe cases where people continue to experience effects of Covid-19 weeks or even months after the initial infection and illness.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence defines long Covid as lasting longer than 12 weeks, though others say symptoms which are still present after eight weeks – and which can’t be explained by another cause – should be considered as long Covid.

According to the NHS, recovery times after contracting Covid vary between individual patients. However, the length of the initial illness does not seem to determine your chances of getting long Covid.

What are the symptoms of long Covid?

The symptoms of long Covid are many and varied, and have been the subject of much attention from medical experts. But, the NHS says, they can include the following:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness or pain

  • Heart palpitations

  • Nausea, stomach aches, diarrhoea or loss of appetite

  • Problems with memory and concentration

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Dizziness

  • Pins and needles

  • Tinnitus and earache

  • Joint pain

  • Rashes

  • High temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, altered sense of smell or taste

As we still know relatively little about the long-term effects of the coronavirus, there may be other symptoms connected to long Covid. Research into the matter is ongoing.

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