What you need to know about ‘long COVID’

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Long COVID is characterized by a range of potentially debilitating symptoms which continue for more than 4 weeks after the infection has passed and which aren’t explained by an alternative diagnosis.

In a study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, researchers found that patients with long COVID syndrome continue to have blood clotting, which may help explain their persistent symptoms, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue.

They examined 50 patients with symptoms of long COVID syndrome to better understand if abnormal blood clotting is involved.

The team discovered that clotting markers were strongly elevated in the blood of patients with long COVID syndrome compared with healthy controls.

These clotting markers were higher in patients who required hospitalization with their initial COVID-19 infection, but they also found that even those who were able to manage their illness at home still had persistently high clotting markers.

The researchers found that higher clotting was directly related to other symptoms of long COVID syndrome, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue.

They say because clotting markers were elevated while inflammation markers had returned to normal, the results suggest that the clotting system may be involved in the root cause of long COVID syndrome.

In another study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found nerve fiber loss and an increase in key immune (dendritic) cells on the surface of the eye (cornea) may be an identifying feature of long COVID.

In the study, the researchers used a real-time, non-invasive, high-resolution imaging laser technique to pick up nerve damage in the cornea.

The team tested 40 people who had recovered from confirmed COVID-19 infection between 1 and 6 months earlier completed a questionnaire to find out if they had long COVID.

They found brain symptoms were present at 4 and 12 weeks in 22 out of 40 (55%) and 13 out of 29 (45%) patients, respectively.

Participants’ corneal scans were compared with those of 30 healthy people who hadn’t had a COVID-19 infection.

The team found that patients with brain symptoms 4 weeks after they had recovered from acute COVID-19 had greater corneal nerve fibre damage and loss, with higher numbers of dendritic cells, than those who hadn’t had COVID-19 infection.

These changes were particularly evident among those with neurological symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell, headache, dizziness, numbness, and neuropathic pain, following COVID-19 infection.

In a third study published in the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Cleveland Clinic researchers found that the risk for these long-term COVID-19 complications may be higher for those who suffer from obesity.

Patients who had moderate or severe obesity had a 30% greater risk of developing these chronic consequences of the disease.

In the study, the team analyzed a registry of nearly 3,000 people who survived COVID-19 and followed them until January 2021.

Results showed chronic complications from COVID-19 are extremely common—about 40% of people who survived the disease had subsequent chronic problems.

The team also found the risk for hospital admission after the initial phase of COVID-19 was about 30% higher in people with moderate-to-severe obesity.

The team suggests that knowing that these patients are at greater risk for developing complications, doctors can say that vaccines are essential in these patients, and they need to encourage patients with obesity to get vaccinated.

If you care about Covid, please read studies about how Long COVID could harm your immune system, and aspirin could help prevent COVID-19 deaths.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about new antibody treatment for COVID-19, and results showing COVID-19 vaccines need to be shored up with a plant-based diet.

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