Long Covid

While most patients recover from Covid-19 infection within 2-3 weeks, it is increasingly recognised that a significant proportion continue to experience on-going symptoms, and in some these may continue for many months. The term ‘long Covid’ has been used to describe post-acute Covid-19 symptoms. Surveys of hospitalised patients who recovered from Covid-19 have demonstrated that nearly 90% reported persistence of at least one symptom 2 months after discharge but prolonged illness can also occur among young adults with no underlying comorbidities. The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 25% of patients with Covid suffer on-going symptoms several months after their initial illness.

Long Covid is a form of post-viral fatigue syndrome but with some specific and rather unpleasant nuances:

Symptoms include:

  • severe fatigue which can render patients chair or even bed-bound and which often varies day to day
  • post-exertional malaise, frequently after minimal exercise,
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • brain fog and reduced ability to concentrate,
  • noise intolerance +/- tinnitus
  • generalised arthralgia and myalgia
  • dysautonomia including postural orthostatic tachycardic syndrome (POTS)
  • headaches and neurological symptoms
  • disturbed and unrefreshed sleep

Frequently these symptoms occur in previously high functioning people holding down busy jobs and cause considerable anguish and frustration.

Using his 30+ years’ experience with post-viral fatigue syndrome, Dr Jenkins has teamed up with a leading respiratory physician, who is leading the Covid response at a major London hospital, as well as a specialist exercise laboratory in Harley Street, who have one of the UK’s most advanced cardiopulmonary physiology labs and who assess and train Everest mountaineers as well as elite sportspeople, to create a specialist long Covid assessment. This combined approach enables a truly holistic management pathway for patients with Long-Covid or post-viral disease comprising (i) initial endocrine investigations to exclude any co-existing condition which would exacerbate symptoms, (ii) appropriate respiratory and cardiac imaging to exclude on-going damage, (iii) appropriately graded cardio-pulmonary physiological assessment to determine aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. These measures are then combined to devise an individual and graded rehabilitation program for the patient with frequent and regular review.