Understanding Long Covid: The Latest Research on Post-Covid Syndrome

Long Covid, also known as Post-Covid Syndrome, is a condition characterized by a range of persistent symptoms that can last for months after initial infection with Covid-19.[0] These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, cognitive difficulties, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and fever.[0] Recent studies have found that 50 to 70 percent of patients previously hospitalized for Covid-19 experience long Covid.

Research into the long-term sequelae of Covid-19 has been increasing, with attention focused on understanding the complexities of this new disease.[1] A study published in Sleep found that obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of long Covid by 75 percent in the N3C patient group, which includes patients with higher levels of other chronic conditions. In the PCORnet patient group, a prior diagnosis of sleep apnea came with a 12 percent increase in risk for long-term symptoms months after patients' initial infections.[2] The observed increases in risk for long Covid in adults with sleep apnea remained significant even when obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hospitalization at the time of their initial Covid infection were accounted for.

Another study at Newcastle University found that people with post-Covid fatigue showed underactivity in three specific areas of the nervous system.[3] The researchers hope to investigate whether vitamin D supplements could reduce the risk of long Covid in future studies.[4] However, further research is needed to confirm this link.

A study involving twelve people with persistent neurological symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection found differences in immune cell profiles and autonomic dysfunction.[5] Long Covid symptoms include fatigue, “brain fog,” and sleep disturbances, which can last for months. The study used deep phenotyping to analyze clinical and biological features and found lower levels of T cells, increased numbers of B cells, and problems with the autonomic nervous system in Long Covid patients.[6] The findings, published in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, contribute to the understanding of Long Covid and may lead to better diagnoses and new treatments.

A paper published in the Royal Society of Medicine found that the risk of developing long Covid is 46 percent higher for those living in the most deprived areas compared to those living in the least deprived areas. Females had a higher risk of long Covid, with the risk of long Covid in females in the least deprived areas comparable to that in males in the most deprived areas.

Cognitive behavioural therapy has been found to benefit those suffering from post-viral fatigue after Covid-19, resulting in less fatigue and concentration problems, according to a study.[7] The ReCOVer study, which was funded by ZonMw, compared individuals who received cognitive behavioural therapy to those who received conventional treatment.[0]

A study revealed that thousands of genes affected by Covid-19 mediate the disease even after the viral infection had been cleared, leading to long Covid and pain associated with it.[8] These genes were associated with neurodegeneration and pain-related pathways, suggesting lasting damage to dorsal root ganglia that may underlie symptoms of Post-Covid Conditions also known as Long Covid. The findings may contribute to the understanding of pathophysiology and help validate novel therapies for the prevention and treatment of Covid.[9]

0. “Cognitive behavioral therapy reduces post-viral fatigue after COVID-19: Study” ANI News, 13 May. 2023, https://www.aninews.in/news/science/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-reduces-post-viral-fatigue-after-covid-19-study20230513084059

1. “Can cognitive behavioral therapy target severe fatigue following COVID-19?” News-Medical.Net, 11 May. 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230511/Can-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-target-severe-fatigue-following-COVID-19.aspx

2. “Sleep Apnea Associated with Increased Risk for Long COVID” Yahoo Finance, 11 May. 2023, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sleep-apnea-associated-increased-risk-150500208.html

3. “COVID-19 Fatigue: Causes Revealed in New Research” Newswise, 11 May. 2023, https://www.newswise.com/articles/covid-19-fatigue-causes-revealed-in-new-research

4. “Could Low Vitamin D Influence Long-COVID Risk?” Neuroscience News, 13 May. 2023, https://neurosciencenews.com/vitamin-d-long-covid-23230/

5. “Researchers identify features of long Covid neurological symptoms” The Tribune India, 7 May. 2023, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/health/researchers-identify-features-of-long-covid-neurological-symptoms-505672

6. “Decoding Long COVID: NIH Study Exposes the Inner Workings of Neurological Symptoms” SciTechDaily, 10 May. 2023, https://scitechdaily.com/decoding-long-covid-nih-study-exposes-the-inner-workings-of-neurological-symptoms/

7. “Fatigue In Long Covid Patients Found To Impact Their Nervous System” Outlook India, 13 May. 2023, https://www.outlookindia.com/national/fatigue-in-long-covid-patients-found-to-impact-their-nervous-system-news-286060

8. “Study: Covid-19 may induce lasting pain” mid-day.com, 11 May. 2023, https://www.mid-day.com/lifestyle/health-and-fitness/article/study-covid19-may-induce-lasting-pain-23285890

9. “Study finds how Covid-19 may induce lasting pain” Ahmedabad Mirror, 11 May. 2023, https://ahmedabadmirror.com/study-finds-how-covid-19-may-induce-lasting-pain/81856147.html

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