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'Long Covid is a post-viral fatigue syndrome also seen after swine and bird flu'

19 March 2021 4:14 PM
Tags:
COVID-19
Covid-19 long haulers
long COVID
post-viral fatigue syndrome

Dr Jason MacArthur says the syndrome develops after the virus itself passes, but the condition continues to affect the patient.

For some people, a Covid-19 infection can pass without them even knowing they’ve had it, or with only the most minor of symptoms. But in some cases, recovery can go on for months as patients continue to struggle with long-lasting effects and recurring symptoms, long after they should technically have been better, says presenter Pippa Hudson.

Pippa chats to general practitioner Dr Jason MacArthur who is also the Medical Director of Ingress Healthcare about the condition that has become known as 'long Covid.'

It appears to fall into a category of diseases that have been known about for a long time called post-viral fatigue syndrome.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

He says this has been recorded previously in cases of swine flu and bird flu, where the virus itself passes, but the condition continues to affect the patient.

We have seen this with Covid, and it is when the signs and symptoms last longer than the typical recovery period, and the patient can show signs typical of covid itself..or post-viral fatigue symptoms like ME.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

He says up to 20% of the millions that have been infected will have a symptom that will last longer than 5 weeks, and up to 10% longer than 12 weeks.

It can become very chronic as a condition.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

Covid is far more than just a respiratory disease and can affect the heart, lungs, and even the brain.

You can have a variety of conditions that result from it and what is so upsetting for patients is that there is no true clinical diagnosis at this stage. It is called a disease of exclusions. So you have to prove that it can't be anything else and then it must be this.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

Patients often, therefore, go from pillar to post undergoing many tests and failing to get the reassurance and support they need which can be very traumatic, he says.

While not enough is yet known, he says, we can lean on what is known from post-viral fatigue syndrome.

That seems to show that it is a disease of an overreaction from the body's immune system and inflammatory system. So when the body reacts to a condition, and it produces chemicals called cytokines that help fight off the disease.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

But in certain instances, it can overact to these diseases for a continued period and the body starts to damage itself, he explains.

And you don't have to have been hospitalised or have had serious covid in order to end up with long Covid.

It seems to be more prominent in patients that had mild Covid.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

Symptoms of long Covid include two paths - one is a continuation of the typical Covid symptoms such as flu-like aches and pains, the cough, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.

He says the other path is vaguer.

Brain fog is described a lot, where your thought processes do not work as they usually do...a severe element of fatigue where you can't exercise the way you used to or even get out of bed or go to work the way you used to.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

Then there are also more psychological elements, where people's moods and behaviour changes with increased anxiety and depression.

Dr Jason McArthur, Medical Director - Ingress Healthcare

Listen to the interview with Dr Jason McArthur in the audio below:




19 March 2021 4:14 PM
Tags:
COVID-19
Covid-19 long haulers
long COVID
post-viral fatigue syndrome

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