Specialist help needed for sufferers of long Covid fatigue

Patients across the country, having recovered from Covid-19, are still reporting bewildering ongoing symptoms of Coronavirus for several months afterwards. This condition is now recognized as long Covid, though little is understood about what actually causes it. Thousands of people suffering from long Covid symptoms will soon have access to specialist care, as the government implements new measures for tackling the condition.

Post-Covid-19 syndrome is a form of post viral fatigue specific to Covid-19. Its symptoms include ongoing fatigue, breathlessness, and other debilitating conditions. It is a condition which can persist for many months after a person has recovered from the virus itself, and one which can leave a person completely incapacitated. Other reports include symptoms of impaired cognitive ability, more commonly referred to as ‘brain fog.’

One local resident who came down with Covid at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, suffers from long Covid. She said, “Long Covid came as a surprise. I didn’t even know what it was when I started having symptoms.”

Six months after her initial Covid infection, she noticed several symptoms including headaches and brain fog. “I felt like I had early onset dementia,” she said, and it was difficult to do her job for a while. She also suffered heart palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, fuzzy vision, shortness of breath, loss of smell for nine months, and several other maladies.

“But the worst was that I was beleaguered by an overwhelming and complete fatigue. Even walking up the stairs was exhausting, and I’d have to sit down and rest frequently. I had to stop running because I felt physically ill after any exercise at all, even just a dog walk,” she said.

In November, when she suffered a debilitating headache and aches, she saw a doctor and an osteopath, but could get no relief.

“A friend recommended a sports physio who also does acupuncture. I gave it a try and found it helped immediately,” she said. “It was the sports physio who connected the dots and said it might be long Covid. She had had other clients with the same symptoms. Once I knew what was happening, I was able to come up with a plan for trying to get better again.”

New evidence has shown that one in five people who suffer from coronavirus go on to experience long term Covid-19 symptoms. In response to this new data, the government has begun to roll out its new initiative for dealing with long Covid and is currently opening specialist clinics around the country to provide both physical and psychological assessments for people suffering from long Covid.

Anyone experiencing symptoms four weeks or more after coronavirus should speak to a GP to begin the process of receiving necessary medical attention. If the patient does not have shortness of breath, they will be sent for a blood test. If they do have shortness of breath, they will also be required to have an ECG and chest X-Ray. If the tests provide no clarity as to what is causing the symptoms, the GP will refer them to the nearest long Covid clinic.

More than 70 clinics currently exist across the UK, and a further 12 are scheduled to open. The nearest clinic to Oundle is in Kettering. The clinics bring together doctors, nurses and physiological and psychological therapists, to support patients suffering from long Covid and to help them receive the care they need.

William Caskey
May 2021