Understanding long COVID: a step forward

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In recent times, doctors and scientists have been trying hard to understand a new health problem called long COVID.

This condition happens to some people after they’ve had COVID-19. Instead of getting completely better, they keep feeling sick for a long time.

Now, thanks to some new research from UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, we’re learning a lot more about it.

Long COVID is a bit tricky to explain.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says it’s when symptoms of COVID-19 stick around for weeks, months, or even years after someone first gets sick. What’s really strange is that some people who didn’t feel sick when they first had COVID-19 can still get long COVID later.

Dr. W. Michael Brode, who leads the Post-COVID-19 Program at UT Health Austin, talks about how important this research is. He points out that about 10% of people who get COVID-19 end up with long COVID. This makes it really important for doctors and hospitals to understand it better so they can help these patients.

One of the big studies they did looked at 252 people who had long COVID. These folks had a bunch of different symptoms that made life hard for them, no matter how old they were, whether they were men or women, or whether they were sick before getting COVID-19. The most common problems they had were feeling very tired, having a hard time thinking clearly (which some people call “brain fog”), and struggling to focus.

What’s more, many of these people didn’t feel good mentally or physically. They found it hard to work like they used to. This shows just how much long COVID can change someone’s life.

Another cool thing these researchers did was work with scientists from Ohio State University on a special blood test. This test can tell the difference between long COVID and another illness called fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body, tiredness, and trouble sleeping – kind of like long COVID. But until now, doctors didn’t have a good way to tell them apart.

In this study, they tested 100 adults. Half of them had long COVID, and the other half had fibromyalgia. They found a special marker in the blood of the people with fibromyalgia that wasn’t in the blood of those with long COVID. This is a big deal because it means doctors can now do a simple blood test to find out if someone has long COVID or fibromyalgia.

Dr. Brode is really hopeful about what these studies mean. He thinks they can help us understand long COVID better. And that understanding could lead to new ways to diagnose it and treat it. This is really important because millions of people are still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to turn all this research into real help for people who need it.

All in all, these studies are a big step in figuring out long COVID. They show that scientists and doctors are working hard to make things better for people who are still feeling the impact of the pandemic. It’s a complicated problem, but with research like this, we’re getting closer to solving it.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19, death, and how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about COVID infection and vaccination linked to heart disease, and results showing extracts from two wild plants can inhibit COVID-19 virus.

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