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It's been more than 10 months since the COVID-19 outbreak started in China's Wuhan city, but we are yet to find a cure for this deadly disease. Even though researchers and medical experts continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus, many aspects of the virus and the disease it causes still remain unknown. While the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and brief, some patients are left struggling with symptoms of the illness months after they have clinically tested negative for the disease.
Medical experts called this condition "long Covid" and it is having a debilitating effect on the lives of people who have survived COVID-19. The medical community is unclear as to why some people get long Covid and when they will fully recover from these long-term consequences of the viral infection.
The novel coronavirus manifests differently in different people. Two people with long Covid may experience different symptoms. However, crippling fatigue is the most common feature among long Covid sufferers.
Others lasting symptoms of COVID-19 include breathlessness for months, a cough that won't go away, persistent joint pain, muscle aches, hearing and eyesight problems, headaches, loss of smell and taste, lung damage, heart attack, life-threatening clots, stroke as well as damage to the kidneys and gut.
A report from Bristol-based Southmead Hospital revealed that almost 75 per cent of the COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital continued to battle with certain symptoms, even after being declared COVID-free. On average, the symptoms lasted for three months. Another preliminary study reported heart inflammation and heart failure among COVID-19 survivors.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed 143 COVID-19 patients after they were discharged from Rome's biggest hospital. Nearly two months later, 87% of patients still had at least one symptom and more than half were struggling with fatigue.
The latest data from the Covid Symptom Tracker App which is used by around 4 million people in the UK, suggests that one in 50 (2%) of all people infected with COVID-19 had symptoms after 90 days.
Many people who recovered from COVID-19 infection are also struggling with mental health problems including depression and anxiety.
What causes long Covid? Researchers are still trying to find answers to this question. However, some suggest that it may be because the virus may be still lingering in some small pockets of the body. For example, the presence of the virus in the gut may be causing long-term diarrhoea, and when it is in the nerves, the person may suffer the loss of smell.
While the medical experts are working on finding the actual reason, long Covid patients can help themselves by getting plenty of rest, drinking a lot of fluids and including fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) has "Your Covid Recovery Plan" which recommends the "three Ps" in order to conserve energy. It tells long Covid patients
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