Long Covid… What is it and what can be done?

As GPs we have noticed a very varied pattern of Covid infection amongst our patients. Symptoms have ranged from none at all to very severe symptoms requiring hospitalization.

While the current focus is very much on reducing the number of infections and the burden on the NHS, we feel it is important that patients who have already had Covid are not side lined.

In recent months you may have seen media reports about “Long Covid”. Clinical guidelines divide “Long Covid” into 2 categories.

Patients who have on going symptoms between 4-12 weeks after an infection are considered to have “on going symptomatic Covid”. While those whose symptoms persist after 12 weeks are said to have “Post Covid 19 syndrome”.

The general term “Long Covid” is taken to mean any symptoms that persist or develop beyond the 4-week mark post infection.

It is estimated that at least 10% of patients experience a prolonged illness post Covid, this can last for weeks or months. It is normal to feel tired and run down in the aftermath of a viral infection.

Thankfully where Covid is concerned most patients have made a full recovery once they have passed the four-week mark. Interestingly the severity of your infection is not thought to impact whether or not you will suffer from ‘Long Covid’.

Doctors are seeing on going symptoms in fit young adults and even children. The symptoms tend to present in clusters and can vary over time and in severity. Many patients are struggling to see a doctor to discuss their concerns and some have reported that they feel dismissed and left “to get on with it”.

We want to reassure you that so called “Long Covid” is a very real entity that requires both recognition and medical intervention. Below is a check list of symptoms but please be aware they vary widely and a patient can have one symptom or multiple symptoms.

If you are suffering any of the symptoms below which are on going, new or worsening 4 weeks post your diagnosis of Covid then you should seek medical attention.

Extreme Fatigue Shortness of breath Cough
Chest pain or chest tightness Brain fog Insomnia
Heart palpitations Dizziness Pins and Needles
Numbness Joint pain Muscle aches
Low mood and anxiety Ear pain and tinnitus Gastric upset
Fever Headache Sore throat
Changes to taste and smell Skin rashes Hair loss
Pain Abdominal Pain Nausea
Diarrhoea Loss of appetite Tinnitus

We know that Covid 19 can have a significant long term impact on the following

Heart
Lungs
Kidneys
Brain and Nervous system
Joints
Mental health

What can be done?

A post Covid health check is your first port of call.

Our doctors will send you a Covid Recovery questionnaire and then book you in for a face-to-face consultation and physical examination. At the time of your visit we will perform blood and urine tests, a lung function test and an ECG. They will also carry out a full physical assessment. For patients who would rather a virtual consultation we can arrange to have your blood taken directly at the lab or have a nurse come to your home to collect the sample.

Our comprehensive blood panel includes

Full blood count and haematology profile Biochemistry profile
Blood sugar levels Thyroid function
Lipid profile Liver function
Kidney function Inflammatory markers ESR and CRP
CK muscle enzyme B12 folate and ferritin markers
Covid antibodies

Other tests such as further cardiac tests and lung imaging can be arranged following consultation with the doctor. In addition we can offer onward referral to a range of experts in the field of post Covid care.

We are very fortunate to have on site access to world class heart and lung specialists and a highly specialised team of physiotherapists and dieticians.

As GPs we also have a wide referral network in the field of mental wellbeing and post viral fatigue.

 

If you are concerned about Long Covid why not contact us Although we treat each case individually to the patients needs we have a couple of off the peg solutions to offer our patients.


* Includes face to face doctors appointment, blood test, urine test, lung function test, ECG and a follow up focussed telephone consultation to review results and arrange referrals.