It is estimated that of those who have Covid and recover in the community without the need for hospital admission, 10 per cent may still have symptoms at four weeks and two per cent at 12 weeks. For those who are hospitalised with Covid, 87 per cent may still have symptoms at 60 days.
IT has been estimated that tens of thousands of people in the UK are now living with the long term effects of a Covid-19 infection, commonly referred to as ‘Long Covid’ but clinically, now being called ‘Post Covid Syndrome’ or Post Acute Covid Syndrome.
Generally, Post Covid Syndrome is used to apply to patients who have symptoms for more than 12 weeks. These can affect any system in the body. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says 'the syndrome usually includes ‘clusters’ of symptoms that may occur across cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, metabolic, musculoskeletal, renal, dermatological, haematological and autonomic systems. Psychiatric problems, generalised pain, fatigue and ongoing fever are also possible.'
That’s a formidably broad list of possible symptoms. Anyone presenting to the GP who thinks they may have Post Covid Syndrome will need to expect their GP to explore the symptoms in detail to ensure that those symptoms are not some other more serious disease.
As a rule of thumb, significant new symptoms developing around six weeks after discharge from hospital, or following initial infection in the community, should prompt an assessment by a GP to rule out any alternative diagnosis. If Post Covid Syndrome is suspected, a screening tool may be used to assess referral to a post-Covid clinic.
There is currently no robust system of quantifying the prevalence of Post Covid Syndrome – i.e. the number of people who currently have it. It is estimated however that of those who have Covid and recover in the community without the need for hospital admission, 10 per cent may still have symptoms at four weeks and two per cent at 12 weeks. For those who are hospitalised with Covid, 87 per cent may still have symptoms at 60 days.
The NHS has nationally provided £10m of funding to local NHS systems to establish services for people with Post Covid Syndrome. The resources will be used to provide pragmatic advice to support recovery online and more specialised support services for those more seriously affected- although in many areas these specialised services are still just being developed.
NICE are producing guidelines for the treatment of Post Covid Syndrome and further research is being undertaken on both hospitalised and non-hospitalised cohorts of people with Post Covid Syndrome to understand more about how best to treat or manage the condition.
The vast majority of people who have had Covid-19 will not get Post Covid Syndrome. The best advice for anyone who thinks they may have Post Covid Syndrome is to search on-line at https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ which provides advice for you as well as family, friends and carers on self-management of the symptoms.
If symptoms persist, talk to your GP.