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Hopefully you're not in it for the long-haul

Dr Ross Walker
26 July 2022

Being in the recovery phase, a few weeks after developing my first case of Covid from this new Omicron BA.5 variant, I'm still not back to normal but thankfully am feeling much better.

Although personally my own experience with Covid felt like a bad dose of influenza with at present being left with a residual, intermittent cough and occasional fatigue, a number of disturbing reports are discussing the significant effects of long Covid.

A recent study published in the journal, Scientific Reports stated that a typical Covid infection lasts acutely for around three weeks but a proportion of people will suffer symptoms for a much longer period. The report stated that the World Health Organization defines long Covid as any Covid related symptoms that are present for 12 weeks or longer.

The study also stated that the prevalence of long Covid can range from anywhere between 10 to 90% based on the diagnostic criteria used.

In this particular study from the United States, 8000 people were surveyed through the Center for Economic and Social research at the University of San Francisco. The study reviewed data between March 2020 to March 2021 and therefore does not include the recent omicron variants. Of the people surveyed, just over 300 were infected although not hospitalised for Covid. They were interviewed one month before, at the time of infection and 12 weeks later.

Disturbingly, just under a quarter of the people surveyed reported symptoms consistent with long Covid. In around 20% of cases the common symptoms were headache, nasal symptoms and abdominal pain with a slightly lesser incidence of fatigue and diarrhea. Interestingly, the study didn't mention the number of cases suffering the so-called “brain fog”.

Another interesting feature suggested people that the highest risk of developing long Covid were not those with pre-existing conditions or the very elderly but more likely in people who were obese, those who experienced hair loss during the episode along with headache and sore throat.

At present, there are no established therapies for long Covid. There has been some benefits reported with post-Covid vaccination and also some reports of people responding to a variety of monoclonal antibodies.

I suggest to all people during this current pandemic that we should keep up preventative levels of vitamin C, vitamin D and consume natural anti-inflammatories such as curcumin and Boswellia.

I have also had discussions with some groups who believe that long Covid represents a reactivation of dormant viruses present in the body, such as Epstein-Barr virus. Another group believes that Covid markedly alters our normal gut microbiome and restoring the gut microbiome to a healthier mix of beneficial bacteria may be a benefit in this situation.

Regardless, the best treatment of any condition is not to get it in the first place. I did as much as I could to prevent contracting Covid but unfortunately it still occurred. But fortunately, am recovering without any significant sequelae.

I have already had four vaccinations and clearly these new strains may evade even healthy immune systems but hopefully having been vaccinated it prevented me from developing long Covid or developing serious complications from the condition.

The consistent message from the experts in the field is that if you are not up-to-date with your vaccination status please consider doing so as soon as possible.

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