Prolonged Respiratory Symptoms: Unveiling 'Long Colds' Beyond COVID-19

07.10.2023 posted by Admin

Long Colds: Lingering Symptoms Beyond Infections

A recent study conducted by Queen Mary University of London has revealed that some individuals may experience prolonged symptoms, often referred to as "long colds," following common respiratory infections such as the cold, flu, pneumonia, or similar illnesses. These lingering symptoms bear similarities to the long-lasting effects observed in cases of long COVID.

The findings, published in The Lancet's EClinicalMedicine journal, highlight that even those who tested negative for COVID-19 after suffering from acute respiratory infections could still endure persistent symptoms for at least four weeks after their initial illness. These lingering symptoms may include coughing, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea. Individuals with long COVID were more likely to report continued issues with their sense of taste or smell, as well as experiencing lightheadedness or dizziness.

Although the study did not compare the duration of symptoms between "long colds" and long COVID, it did reveal that individuals in both groups were more prone to severe symptoms if they had previously been infected.

This research was part of COVIDENCE UK, a national study launched by the university in 2020 to investigate COVID-19. To gather data for this study, researchers analyzed responses from 10,171 adults in the United Kingdom between January and February 2021. They looked for 16 common symptoms associated with long COVID, including coughing, sleep disturbances, memory issues, difficulty concentrating, joint pain, problems with taste or smell, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, voice changes, hair loss, heart palpitations, lightheadedness or dizziness, excessive sweating, breathlessness, anxiety or depression, and fatigue.

While long-lasting symptoms, often known as post-acute infection syndromes, are not a new occurrence, they frequently remain undiagnosed due to the wide range of symptoms and limited testing available.

Professor Adrian Martineau, the chief investigator of COVIDENCE UK and a clinical professor specializing in respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, emphasized the importance of ongoing research into the long-term effects of not only COVID-19 but also other infections. This research can shed light on why some individuals experience prolonged symptoms while others do not, ultimately aiding in identifying the most appropriate treatment and care for affected individuals.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics revealed that millions of Americans report experiencing long COVID. According to data from the 2022 National Health Interview Survey, 6.9% of U.S. adults reported having had long COVID at some point, while 3.4% reported having the condition at the time of the survey. Extrapolating from U.S. Census data, this suggests that nearly 18 million Americans have experienced long COVID since the start of the pandemic, with almost 9 million currently affected. The data also highlighted that women were more likely than men to report long COVID.
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