According to the World Health Organization, 10-20% of people who have had COVID are experiencing long COVID. This term is commonly used to refer to symptoms which persist beyond 12 weeks after a COVID infection with no other diagnosis accounting for them.
How Long COVID is Affecting Gibraltarians
Symptoms can be physical, psychological or both – they vary from person to person and can fluctuate. The most common symptom is fatigue, followed by breathlessness, chest pain and cough. Less common symptoms include loss of smell or taste, joint pain, headache, dizziness, dry mouth, muscle pain, insomnia, hair loss, sweating and diarrhoea. Some people may develop a characteristic “brain fog”, memory loss, anxiety or depression.
Long COVID has two components. Firstly, “ongoing symptomatic COVID” covering symptoms persisting 4-12 weeks after a COVID infection. Then there is “post-COVID syndrome” which includes symptoms affecting the person which persist beyond 12 weeks with no other diagnosis to account for them. When talking about long COVID, most people are referring to symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks.
Rehabilitation is the mainstay of long COVID treatment. There is no medication approved for long COVID as it encompasses so many different things. However, other conditions caused by, or confused with, long COVID do have medical therapies. Consult your GP or COVID specialist to work out the best course of action in your particular case.
Working with long COVID patients includes a number of methods, but it all starts with listening to them and taking their symptoms seriously to work out the next steps to improve their health and quality of life. Each case is different, but if a person has persistent troubling symptoms they need to be seen by a doctor, experienced in the field, to determine the cause and whether any specific tests or treatments are required. At the Specialist Medical Clinic, Dr Isabella Bassill has a special interest in Long COVID and is able to help patients obtain the medical support they need, working together with the patient to achieve the best possible outcome.