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COVID-19 symptoms have been shown to differ from person to person. As well as differing severities of the virus, a range of different symptoms have been reported, from gastrointestinal issues to neurological problems. The CDC has been working to learn more about the whole range of short and long-term health effects associated with COVID.
It states: “As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health.”
While most people with COVID-19 have been shown to recover and return to normal health, some patients have shown to have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery, even from acute illness.
The health body adds: “Even people who are not hospitalised and who have mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms.”
The CDC has updated its list of long-term symptoms, including the most commonly reported long-term symptoms and serious long-term complications.
The most commonly reported long-term symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
Other reported long-term symptoms:
- Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Muscle pain
- Intermittent fever
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
More serious long-term complications – less common but have been reported:
- Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
- Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
- Renal: acute kidney injury
- Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
- Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
- Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood
The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known, but the best way to prevent long-term complications is to prevent COVID-19.
There are five things you can do to protect yourself and your community, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The first is to wash your hands frequently and to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue.
It explains: “One of the ways we become infected, or pass on viruses to others, is through the droplets in coughs and sneezes – for instance through someone who has a virus, coughing onto their hand, then touching a door handle.
“A simple and effective way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is by making sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser if you are out and about. It’s particularly important to wash your hands once you get home or arrive at work or before you prepare or eat food.
“If you are unwell it’s vital that you catch your coughs and sneezes in a tissue, or use your arm if needed, throw the tissues away, then wash your hands.”
You should also be prepared to self-isolate if you have symptoms. If you experience a fever, continuous cough or a loss of sense of taste and smell you should get tested.
PHE also recommends planning ahead – for example, social distancing.
You should also use health services wisely. It advises: “Now that COVID-19 is considered to be spreading in the community this could mean the NHS is busier than usual so it’s important to think carefully about the NHS services you use.
“If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you could pass the infection to others. Visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 if you need to speak to someone.
“Services like 999 or Accident and Emergency should only be used for genuine emergencies.”
Finally, you should stay up to date using trusted sources of information.
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