COVID-19 sufferers have reported experiencing unusual symptoms months after contracting the disease. The primary symptoms of the illness- high temperature, a dry, persistent cough, and a loss of taste and sense of smell – are now well known and widely discussed.
What people are less aware of is a string of other ailments that are affecting those infected by the virus for weeks. They range from unusual pains and fevers to crippling headaches and tiredness.
Due to the newness of the disease research into the long-term impact, it has on bodies is limited.
However, scientists at King’s College London have found that around one in 20 COVID-19 patients experience long-term symptoms for at least a month.
In unusual cases, they can go on for several weeks longer even than that, despite the median time for recovery is just 14 days.
King’s College’s Professor Tim Spector, who leads the team responsible for developing the UK’s biggest symptom tracker app, described Covid-19 as one of the “strangest diseases I’ve ever come across”,
“For many people, it (COVID-19) can linger on; many people are saying they’ve had it for over three months now,” he told The Telegraph.
He went on to say that more attention should be paid to tracking longer-term symptoms.
Paul Garner, a professor of infectious diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, experienced symptoms almost two months after he caught the bug. He wrote a blog post for the British Medical Journal about his illness which was met with a great number of people sharing similar experiences.
“In mid-March, I developed COVID-19,” Prof Garner wrote.
“For almost seven weeks I have been through a roller coaster of ill health, extreme emotions, and utter exhaustion.
“Although not hospitalized, it has been frightening and long. The illness ebbs and flows, but never goes away.
“Health professionals, employers, partners, and people with the disease need to know that this illness can last for weeks, and the long tail is not some “post-viral fatigue syndrome”
—it is the disease.”
The academic described the illness as going “on and on.”
He wrote: “The symptoms changed, it was like an advent calendar, every day there was a surprise, something new. A muggy head; acutely painful calf; upset stomach; tinnitus; pins and needles; aching all over; breathlessness; dizziness; arthritis in my hands; weird sensation in the skin with synthetic materials.”
After 44 days of feeling intensely ill, Prof Garner decided he was well enough to exercise.
After completing a “little cycle” and online class, he had to go back to bed for a week.
Charlotte Bolton, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Nottingham, said the impact of the virus seemed to vary hugely. Surprisingly, people who were badly affected in the first two days tended to recover more quickly than those who had a milder strain.
Some young people who had seemingly recovered from the disease were reporting forgetfulness and mental fatigue weeks later, Prof Bolton said.
A “small but noticeable proportion of patients” also suffered from long term lung scarring, she told The Telegraph.
Possible longer-term symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Mental fatigue.
- Aching muscles.