Long Covid Study: Symptoms can last at least 15 months

Today marks two years since I was in the middle of my eighth week of Covid-19 misery. I wondered what was wrong and why I didn’t recover. In addition to those that had been with me from the very beginning — shortness of breath, muscle aches, debilitating exhaustion, chills — my collection expanded to include rashes, hair loss, and multiple neurocognitive symptoms that have since been lumped together and labeled “brain fog.”The term is not complete inadequacy. “fog” implies that it’s temporary, and soon will lift.

However, the study’s results were published today The journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology Another story is that Long Covid sufferers continue to have their experiences Neurological symptomsincluding cognitive dysfunction, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness — They were still alive more than a decade after their initial Covid-19 infections.

These are the most recent insights. Igor Koralnik, MDDr. Judith A. Sullivan, Chief of Neuro-Infectious Diseases & Global Neurology Northwestern Medicine, and his team at the hospital’s Neuro Covid-19 Clinic. Their previous study. Publication date: March 2021, reported that 85 percent of the Clinic’s Long Covid patients who sought treatment between May and November 2020 (after relatively mild Covid-19 illnesses that didn’t require hospitalization) had a minimum of four neurological symptoms.

When Koralnik and his colleagues followed up with the same group of patients between 11 and 18 months after their initial Covid infection — the results of which Today’s publication — 81 percent indicated that they were still dealing with at least one neurological symptom; most had several. The average age of this group was 43 years old, with 73 percent identifying themselves as female.

“The main takeaway [from this study] is that patients [an average of] 15 months from disease onset still had a persistence of the most debilitating neurological symptoms, including brain fog, headache, dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, and ringing in their ears,”Koralnik said that patients’ only complaints of declining symptoms were loss of taste or smell.

Adam Kaplin, MD and PhDA neuropsychiatrist who worked with Long Covid patients as part the Johns Hopkins Post Acute Covid-19 TeamAnd was not involved in the Northwestern study. “should absolutely be a wake-up call,” highlighting the fact that these persistent neurological symptoms aren’t limited to those who were hospitalized with life-threatening Covid-19 infections, and include people whose initial illnesses weren’t as severe, “who were just minding their business at home trying to recover.”

Interestingly, the study also found that three symptoms — variation in heart rate and blood pressure, and gastrointestinal issues — became more frequent over time, which Koralnik says suggests that Long Covid may be triggering abnormal autoimmune reactionsSome patients may experience an attack on their own healthy cells. “We know that 16 percent of [participants in our study] had autoimmune disease before Covid, which is higher than the normal U.S. population,”He says it. Rolling Stone. “And there may be an autoimmune predisposition in the patients who develop Long Covid.” 

Kaplin suggests a second explanation for these symptoms. She points out that they may be side effects from medications used to treat Long Covid symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and insomnia. “I’m not quite sure how to interpret the symptoms that didn’t exist and got worse, because [the authors of the study] didn’t clarify who was on what meds,”He says it. Rolling Stone.

The research also revealed how vaccines could impact Long Covid. With 77 percent of the study’s participants fully vaccinated, Koralnik says that vaccination had a neutral effect. 

People with Long Covid, like everyone else, may experience temporary side effects following a dose. These typically last between 24 and 48 hours. “Sometimes people [with Long Covid] say [the vaccine causes] a reawakening of some of their symptoms,” Koralnik explains. “But Long Covid is not triggered by vaccination or made worse by vaccination over time, and the benefits of vaccination are far greater than the inconvenience of a transient reaction to the vaccine.”

Koralnik claims that this research has “the longest follow-up period of neurologic symptoms impacting non-hospitalized patients who developed Long Covid anywhere in the world.” And while Kaplin recognizes the importance of the findings, he says that they shouldn’t be seen as representative of all people with Long Covid.

Participants with Long Covid were only allowed to participate in the study if they sought treatment for their neurological symptoms at a clinic. “Equally as important is that [the participants in the study] were selected because they’ve had symptoms for at least six weeks,” Kaplin explains. “And so [the researchers] were selecting people who were more likely to have a progressive and long course.”

Although there still aren’t definitive statistics on the number of Americans living with Long Covid, as of March 2022, estimates ranged from 7.7 million to 23 million people, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. But the condition’s mysteries don’t end there. 

Today’s study was published in a separate publication. Annals of Internal Medicine from researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirms what is already known — or technically, unknown — about Long Covid: That its cause has yet to be identified, and it remains unclear how or why the wide range of long-term post-Covid symptoms develop. 

And while we still don’t know how long a person’s Long Covid symptoms might last, post-Covid clinics like the ones at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins are providing people with the available tools to help them cope with the disruptions to their lives. But for the most part, those aren’t cures or long-term solutions. 

For now, the future of the millions of people who, like myself, are living with Long Covid, depends on further research — something Koralnik and his team call for in their article. “The take-home message is that people are suffering,”Kaplin: “and Long Covid needs to be studied better in order for it to be treated and managed and understood.”

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