Over the last year we have heard a lot about the numbers of deaths from Covid-19, and also about the number of patients requiring ITU treatment to help them to survive the infection. What we have not heard so much about is what happens after hospital, when patients are discharged home and how some of their lives continue to be affected by ongoing symptoms. There are indeed also large numbers of people whose acute Covid symptoms have not warranted hospitalisation but who remain unwell with complaints such as extreme fatigue, breathlessness, chest pain and palpitations some considerable time after first infection.
The term “long Covid” is being used to describe people who have symptoms which continue weeks and months after acute infection with the virus. A recent article in the British Medical Journal sought to subcategorise these patients further, and also create guidelines to help doctors investigate and treat those with ongoing symptoms – access to the guidelines can be found by clicking here. This guidance is up-to-date at the time of writing in early February 2021, but it has been put together quickly to try to address the growing number of people with continuing symptoms, and will be refined in the coming weeks and months as our knowledge about the recovery process becomes broader.
Unfortunately there are no quick fixes and for some people recovery is an incredibly slow and delicate process, which simply cannot be rushed. The NHS has developed a resource – Your Covid Recovery – which provides advice and support for those struggling with ongoing symptoms, including management of day-to-day struggles and also the “red flag” symptoms which require new assessment.