Coronavirus symptoms update: What is long COVID? Experts explains symptoms to spot

Almost daily new information is being received regarding COVID-19 with strange symptoms explained by many patients. Long COVID is a new phenomenon which is puzzling leading health experts. What is it and what are the symptoms to spot?

One aspect of COVID-19 which is not yet to fully understood is the virus’ longevity.

A recent study found nearly three quarters of Coronavirus patients admitted to hospital suffer ongoing symptoms three months later.

This phenomenon is being called ‘long COVID’ and Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Chief Medical Officer of leading symptom assessment tool Doctorlink spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to explain more.

When asked what exactly is long COVID, Dr Little-Hillson said: “Firstly, it’s important to know that ‘long COVID’ is not an official medical term, but a colloquial term being used to describe people whose symptoms go on for longer than the two-week symptom period officially recognised by the World Health Organisation.

“As with the acute stage of the disease, the long-term symptoms are still far from being fully understood.

“You may have seen news articles reporting there are 100s of potential symptoms of long COVID, ranging from heart palpitations to bed wetting.

“The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) of MPs on Coronavirus has also formed a list of 16 symptoms which ‘long haulers’ are reportedly suffering from.

“However, please note that at this stage, as ‘long COVID’ is yet to be officially recognised medically, the symptoms reported in these articles should not be taken as official after-effects of the virus.”

Dr Littlewood-Hillsdon provides a list of long COVID symptoms which include tiredness, aches and pains, cognitive problems, breathlessness, dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

“Reports suggest that there is not a direct correlation between the severity of the initial illness to who is then developing long-term symptoms,” added Dr Littlewood-Hillsdon.

He continued: “There have been people who have been in intensive care with COVID-19, but who have made a full recovery, whilst on the other end of the scale, there are people who had a relatively minor infection, but have then gone on to experience symptoms that don’t go away for months.

“There is a huge amount of funding going into large-scale research projects, so medical professionals can better understand the ways in which the virus manifests itself.”

Asked when a person should seek medical advice and care regarding potential long COVID symptoms, Dr Littlewood-Hillsdon answered: “As soon as you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 you should ensure to get tested.

“If you test positive, NHS Track and Trace will be in touch with details on how long you need to isolate for and to ask questions about where you’ve been and who you’ve been physically close to.

“This is imperative to help control the spread of the virus.

“Keep a close eye on your symptoms and keep note of when they started and how long they are going on for.

The World Health Organisation has stated that symptoms of COVID-19 should generally clear up within 14 days, so if any of your symptoms persist for longer than this, it’s possible you are experiencing ‘long COVID’.

Dr Littlewood-Hillsdon added: “Whilst there is no treatment currently prescribed, patients should try to support their immune systems through healthy, balanced eating, drinking enough fluids and general exercise.

“You can check your symptoms 24/7 with a digital triage tool such as Doctorlink, which will point you in the direction of the appropriate form of care. 

“Alternatively, dial 111 or speak to your GP.

“Depending on the combination of symptoms you are experiencing and their severity, you may be advised to seek further medical attention.”

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Fewer kids may be carrying coronavirus without symptoms than believed, study says

(HealthDay)—Are infected-but-healthy children major “silent spreaders” of the new coronavirus? New research out of northern Italy, once a COVID-19 hotspot, suggests they might not be.

Rigorous COVID-19 testing of children and adults admitted to a hospital in Milan for reasons other than coronavirus found that just over 1% of kids tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, compared to more than 9% of adults.

That suggests a very low rate of asymptomatic infection among children, and does “not support the hypothesis that children are at higher risk of carrying SARS-CoV-2 asymptomatically than adults,” the researchers reported in the Sept. 14 online edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

One U.S. expert in infectious disease found the report encouraging.

“Since the start of the pandemic it has been very difficult to determine what the actual role of children in the spread of the virus is,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.

“It is becoming clear that they do not amplify this virus the way they do influenza when it comes to community spread,” Adalja said.

In the new study, physicians led by Dr. Carlo Agostoni, of the Ca’Granda Foundation Maggiore Polyclinic Hospital in Milan, conducted two sets of nasal swab tests, up to two days apart, on 214 newly admitted patients.

Eighty-three of these new admissions were children and 131 were adults. All were admitted to the hospital in March and April, at the height of northern Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak. However, all of the patients were admitted for reasons unconnected to COVID-19, and none had shown any symptoms of the illness.

So how many were secretly carrying the virus nonetheless? Based on the swab tests, only 1.2% of the pediatric patients turned up positive for infection, compared to 9.2% of adults.

The low rate of carriage among kids in a city with a burgeoning number of COVID-19 cases suggests “that [children’s] role as facilitators of the spreading of SARS-CoV-2 infection could be reconsidered,” the study authors wrote.

Still, the researchers stressed that this is a small sample from just one hospital, so the findings shouldn’t be considered definitive.

And of course community outbreaks of COVID-19 tied to asymptomatic but infected children are happening in the United States. On Friday, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report on a cluster of cases originating from two Salt Lake City day care facilities. The report found that 12 youngsters infected with coronavirus (only three showed any symptoms) enrolled at two day care centers easily passed SARS-CoV-2 to at least 12 family members, one of whom ended up hospitalized.

So as millions of children head back to school, uncertainty as to their role in the spread of COVID-19 continues, Adalja said.

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Coronavirus warning: Can you catch COVID-19 from your neighbour’s toilet? New fears raised

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on almost every part of our lives and with fears of a second wave beckoning, a new fear has been presented after residents in a building in China contracted COVID-19 through a toilet. This could mean the virus can spread through people’s toilets, making the risk of infection even higher.

Coronavirus wafting through a Chinese apartment building’s plumbing may have infected some residents, according to a new study, raising fears of yet another way that COVID-19 could spread.

The case bears resemblance to a 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that spread through the pipes of a Hong Kong apartment building—and some worry that transmission via toilets might have contributed to the COVID-19 outbreak that shut down New York City early in the pandemic.

A number of COVID-19 patients have reported gastrointestinal syptoms and now a fear the virus could be spread through faeces has been heightened.

A new study adds to months of warnings that SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 and is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets and aerosols, could also infect via faeces.

Although faecal transmission of a pathogen is tricky to confirm—and proving that a virus can spread via building waste pipes is even more difficult—it is entirely possible, several researchers have confirmed.

Dr Alexander Podboy said: “COVID-19 is probably not just respiratory symptoms like a cough.

“A third of the patients we studied had gastrointestinal symptoms.

“It’s possible we may be missing a significant portion of patients sick with the coronavirus due to our current testing strategies focusing on respiratory symptoms alone.”

In a study published in Jama Network, the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms and faecal viral shedding in patients with COVID-19 was further investigated.

The study noted: “Data on patients with GI symptoms (ie, diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting), liver enzyme level changes, and faecal shedding of virus were extracted.

“Quality of studies was examined using a methodological index for nonrandomized studies.

“There have been some reports regarding the virus being detected from other sites, and therefore potentially transmitted in ways other than respiratory droplets.

“In our analysis of a few studies in which SARS-CoV-2 RNA was isolated from the stool, the faecal-oral route of transmission could be an additional potential source of infection spread.

“Our results also suggest that testing of the virus in faeces by real-time RT-PCR could be helpful in disease monitoring and surveillance.

“A study by Xiao found that more than 20 percent of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection have test results positive for viral RNA in stool even after negative conversion of viral RNA in the respiratory tract.

“Moreover, faecal-oral transmission of the virus could explain some of the nosocomial infections, especially those occurring in endoscopy units.”

The study concluded these findings regarding virus shedding in faeces imply that SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted by the faecal-oral route and support consideration of stool testing to aid in transmission-based precautions among patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Other studies have also found abundant COVID-19 RNA in hospital toilets, and one modelling study suggested that flushing a toilet can potentially spew viral particles far above the toilet seat.

A person could therefore be exposed to COVID-19 by simply breathing aerosolized faeces, or by ingesting the virus after touching a contaminated surface.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “it is unclear” whether virus in faeces can cause COVID-19 and concludes the risk of spreading the virus this way is “low”.

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Dementia warning: Has your partner made this observation about people or animals? Sign

Dementia is the name for a cluster of symptoms associated with specific forms of brain damage. One of the most is Lewy body dementia, which is caused by clumps of protein forming inside brain cells. These deposits – Lewy bodies – build up in areas of the brain responsible for functions such as thinking, visual perception and muscle movement.

Hallucinations are a common warning sign of Lewy body dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society (AS).

According to the AS, hallucinations in people with dementia with Lewy bodies usually take the form of brightly coloured people or animals.

“They often last for several minutes and can occur on a daily basis,” says the health body.

Non-visual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIH).

Other symptoms include:

  • Problems with understanding, thinking, memory and judgement – this is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory may be less affected in people with dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Confusion or sleepiness – this can change over minutes or hours
  • Slow movement, stiff limbs and tremors (uncontrollable shaking)
  • disturbed sleep, often with violent movements and shouting out
  • Fainting spells, unsteadiness and falls.

These problems can make daily activities increasingly difficult and someone with the condition may eventually be unable to look after themselves.

When to seek medical advice

“See a GP if you think you have early symptoms of dementia, especially if you’re over 65 years of age,” advises the NHS.

If you’re worried about someone else, encourage them to make an appointment with a GP and perhaps suggest that you go with them, the health body says.

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“The GP can do some simple checks to try to find out the cause of your symptoms and may refer you to a specialist for further tests,” it adds.

Lewy body dementia – am I at risk?

According to the Lew Body Dementia Association, there are only a few known risk factors for dementia with Lewy bodies to date, including advanced age and male sex.

A study published in the journal Neurology has shed further light on the risk factors associated, however.

The study compared for the frequency of risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) in individuals with Lewy Body Dementia Association (DLB)

Pooling data from three separate cohorts, researchers studied 147 subjects with DLB, 236 subjects with Alzheimer’s disease and 294 healthy controls to identify risk factors for DLB.

Subjects were studied to see if 19 different risk factors that were associated with AD and PD were also risk factors for DLB.

The study revealed the risk factor profile of DLB appears to combine aspects of both AD and PD.

A history of depression or anxiety, a family history of PD, history of stroke, and the APOE genetic variant were associated with a greater risk for DLB.

According to the NHS, family history is an uncommon risk association.

Factors that reduce the risk of AD and PD (smoking, a history of cancer and more years of education), also reduced the risk of DLB, the study found.

Prior caffeine use was also associated with a reduced likelihood of an eventual DLB diagnosis.

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High cholesterol symptoms: The sexual sign your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels could be too high

High cholesterol levels can be troublesome as it means there is too much ‘bad’ cholesterol floating in the blood and this could pose serious health complications. Knowing the warning signs and correcting one’s diet are some ways to reduce your risk and if you suffer with erectile dysfunction it could be due to high levels of cholesterol.

Shamir Patel, founder of Chemist 4 U said: “A symptom of high cholesterol can be erectile dysfunction, caused by the lack of blood flow.

“Another symptom may be yellowy growths under the skin of their eyelids – called xanthelasma.

“This is fatty material containing lipids, or fats, including cholesterol, and usually appear symmetrically between your eyes and nose.

“However, each of these symptoms can be other health conditions, which is why it’s so important to test your cholesterol on a regular basis.

“Call your GP if you are concerned, who can discuss your concerns.

“There are also home testing kits if you would prefer.” 

Too much bad cholesterol (also known as LDL) in the bloodstream creates arterial plaque that damages and blocks blood flow, said Boston Medical Group.

It added: “These blockages will result in inadequate circulation of blood throughout the system including the penis and genital area.

“As a result, erection problems occur. 

“The side effects of high cholesterol in men can lead to erectile dysfunction.

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“The higher your LDL levels the more likely to develop erection problems and severe cases lead to impotence.

“Also, high cholesterol can make the body more difficult to produce the necessary chemicals to create an erection. 

“High cholesterol affects the body’s ability to properly release nitric oxide into the bloodstream.

“This prevents the proper relaxation of penile tissues to cause erectile engorgement.

High cholesterol and erectile dysfunction could be an underlying cause of another health problem.

However, these problems are reversible.

High cholesterol affects testosterone production.

Testosterone is a hormone responsible for the secondary sex characteristics of men. 

High cholesterol limits blood flow to the testicles and as a result, may damage their ability to produce testosterone.

Patel added: “People with high cholesterol often don’t realise that they have it, as there are no glaringly obvious symptoms.

“However, it can be a serious health condition, because it can block your blood vessels and put you at risk of heart problems and strokes.

“Therefore, it’s important to understand and recognise the warning signs that your cholesterol may be too high.

“Firstly, consider the main risk factors: do you do little exercise, smoke, eat fatty food and drink alcohol?

“Does your family have a history of high cholesterol? If you tick a number of these factors, it puts you in the risk category, and you should keep an eye on yourself.”

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Dementia: The diet shown to be a ‘powerful weapon’ against brain decline

Dementia comes in numerous forms but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. Memory problems – usually the first sign – can begin with forgetting a recent conversation and may culminate in forgetting who your loved ones are. The decline is heartbreaking but research suggests you can (to an extent) protect yourself against it.

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Research shedding light on one of the factors that causes Alzheimer’s has also presented new ways of safeguarding against it.

In a research paper conducted by Professor Michael T. Heneka, of the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Bonn, Germany, and his co-authors, inflammation in the brain – known as neuroinflammation, was highlighted as a marker of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Dr. Scuderi and her co-authors in the research paper, inflammation is an important component of Alzheimer’s disease because of the body’s immune reaction to initial abnormal deposits in brain cells.

Rather than making things better, however, this immune reaction that causes inflammation can rapidly develop to the point where it promotes the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the research states.

This development has prompted researchers to investigate ways to counter brain inflammation.

According to Dr Fred Pescatore, a natural health physician based in New York and bestselling author of ‘The A List Diet’ and ‘Feed Your Kids Well’, one of the most promising countermeasures is to eat a ketogenic diet.

“The ketogenic diet is one of your most powerful weapons against brain inflammation,” he said, speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk.

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.

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This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which can supply energy to your brain.

As Dr Pescatore reported, in a recent pilot study, researchers placed 15 subjects with mild Alzheimer’s on a ketogenic diet for three months.

They assessed cognitive function before the diet period, immediately after the diet period, and then a month later once the subjects had resumed their usual diets.

“Among these subjects, ten were able to achieve sustained ketosis,” he said.

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These patients showed significant cognitive improvement when compared to the five patients who didn’t follow the diet closely enough, noted Dr Pescatore.

Those who achieved sustained ketosis experienced a four-point increase in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale Test (ADAS Cog), which is used to measure memory, language, and praxis, he said.

Other tips to reduce your risk

The latest research suggests that other factors are also important, although this does not mean these factors are directly responsible for causing dementia.

These include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Untreated depression (although this can also be a symptom of dementia)
  • Loneliness or social isolation
  • A sedentary lifestyle

The research concluded that by modifying all the risk factors we are able to change, our risk of dementia could be significantly reduced.

Furthermore, there’s some evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives.

Interventions such as “brain training” computer games have been shown to improve cognition over a short period, but research has not yet demonstrated whether this can help prevent dementia.

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Nurse misreads symptoms of her own heart attack

At her new job as a nurse at a college in St. Louis, Roslyn Harvey spent most of her day sitting at a desk. So, when she felt breathless walking across campus or climbing stairs, she figured she was out of shape.

To get fit, she started walking 15-20 minutes on a treadmill before work. Then one evening, Roslyn came home from work so exhausted she dozed off while sitting at her kitchen table. She jolted awake, surprised at her tiredness and sensing a sharp pain in her left shoulder and pressure in her chest.

“It was uncomfortable, but not like the vise grip or someone standing on your chest type of pressure I learned as a nurse,” she said. “So, I thought it was indigestion.”

The shoulder pain eased, but not the feeling in her chest. Roslyn noticed that whenever she moved, the discomfort moved, further bolstering her thinking it was only indigestion.

She went to bed but awakened at 2 a.m., took some antacid and went back to bed. In the morning, she felt the same. She soon found herself alternating between vomiting and diarrhea.

Then her brother called. As she described her symptoms, including the persistent pain in her chest, her brother said, “I think this is a heart attack.”

“I arrived at the hospital at 11:35 a.m. and by 3:30 p.m. I was recovering from surgery in the ICU,” she said. Doctors had placed two stents to restore blood flow in her heart.

Roslyn tried to understand why she had a heart attack at 58.

Although she was 15 pounds overweight, she didn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and didn’t smoke. She looked more closely at her family’s health history.

She hadn’t been close to her late father. A copy of his death certificate showed he died of a heart attack in his late 60s. She also learned her maternal grandfather died in his 80s of a suspected heart attack. Roslyn’s older brother and two sisters had high blood pressure.

“I felt like I was healthy and never had any problems,” she said. “It was my assumption that I was fine.”

After her heart attack in January 2015, Roslyn began exercising regularly. She eventually began working out for an hour at least three days a week.

She also changed her diet, avoiding sodium, sugar and fried foods. She decreased portions and changed her approach to dining out, asking for sauces and dressings on the side.

“I really started reading labels closely so I would know what I was eating,” she said.

Her heart attack also persuaded her 30-year-old son, Robert S. Harvey, to make lifestyle changes. “I’m asking more questions about what I’m eating and being more open to healthier options,” he said.

As a school superintendent in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood, Robert now walks between campuses for meetings, even planning walking meetings to stay active.

“I’m a lot more conscious about getting regular exercise,” he said.

Robert said his mom’s experience also illustrates the role of community support—both in cases of emergency and in making lifestyle changes.

“I’m being a lot more upfront with close friends so they know my family history in case anything happens,” he said.

Roslyn said her experience illustrates the importance of listening to your body.

“You need to know your family history and listen to your body,” she said. “If something doesn’t feel right, then you need to seek medical help.”

She volunteers for the American Heart Association, sharing her story and presenting heart-health information at her sorority and church.

Roslyn also learned more about recognizing heart attack symptoms. Like men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, including shortness of breath, extreme exhaustion, indigestion, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

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Bowel cancer: The two gastrointestinal issues signalling small bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is a general term for any cancer which develops in the bowel. The disease is sometimes referred to as colorectal or colon cancer. The early warning signs of bowel differ slightly when it comes to small bowel cancer and experiencing any of these gastrointestinal issues could be a sign.

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Bowel cancer is cancer in any part of the large bowel.

It is sometimes known as colorectal cancer and might also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where it starts.

Cancer of the small bowel is very rare; it is called small bowel cancer or small intestine cancer.

What is small bowel cancer?

The National Cancer Institute said: “Small intestine cancer is a rare disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the small intestine.

“The small intestine is part of the body’s digestive system, which also includes the oesophagus, stomach and large intestine.

“The digestive system removes and processes nutrients from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body.

“The small intestine is a long tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine and folds many times to fit inside the abdomen.

“The types of cancer found in the small intestine are adenocarcinoma, sarcoma, carcinoid tumours, gastrointestinal stromal tumour and lymphoma.”

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People with small bowel cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs said Cancer.Net.

The health site continued: “Sometimes, people with small bowel cancer do not have any of these changes.

“Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.”

 Signs of small bowel cancer include: 

·        Blood in the stool (faeces)

·        Dark/black stools

·        Diarrhoea

·        A lump in the abdomen

·        Pain or cramps in the abdomen

·        Unexplained weight loss

·        Episodes of abdominal pain that may be accompanied by severe nausea or vomiting.

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Cancer.Net added: “If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor.

“Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions.

“This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

“If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment.

“This may be called palliative care or supportive care.

“Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer, and may be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending on your particular case.

If it’s detected early enough, treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it from coming back.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or nausea, it’s important to speak to your GP about the possible cause.

Nausea and vomiting could be caused by a variety of different ailments other than small bowel cancer.

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Heart attack: Noticing this sign on ankles after taking off your socks is an early warning

Heart attacks are serious medical emergencies which require immediate attention from medical experts. A lesser-known warning sign of the condition is noticing your skin looking like this after taking off your socks.

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Heart attacks are caused by a lack of blood reaching the heart.

Without enough blood, the heart can become damaged and it could lead to death.

A heart attack could also be a symptom of coronary heart disease, which is where fatty deposits build up in the arteries and limits the amount of blood reaching the heart.

An unusual warning sign of the condition is spotting sock marks after taking off your socks.

Many people associate heart attacks with obvious symptoms including chest pain.

However, there are some lesser-known warning signs which include bleeding gums or swollen feet.

When a person has swollen feet and ankles, they will often notice an indentation on their skin after they take off their socks.

Dr Carl Orringer, associate professor of medicine and director of the Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said: “Signs like ankles swelling or weight gain do not necessarily mean you have heart disease, but taken together with other symptoms of heart disease, laboratory studies, and family history, they are an important part of making a diagnosis of heart disease or heart failure.”

Retention of fluid in the feet and legs is known as peripheral edema.

Edema may appear as “sock marks” on the legs and ankles at the end of the day.

Mild peripheral edema is common.

A GP may check for this sign by pressing a finger against the ankle or shin bone to see if a depression or dent is left behind.

This is known as “pitting edema” and it could indicate congestive heart failure.

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Edema may be a sign of heart failure because when the heart is not pumping well, fluid from inside the blood vessels tends to leak out into surrounding tissues.

The legs and ankles are common areas for edema due to its effects of gravity.

Dr Orringer added: “Peripheral edema may be caused by a host of issues.

“The bottom line is that most people with peripheral edema do not have heart disease, but it could be an important sign if there are other signs and symptoms of heart failure.”

Most often, peripheral edema is the result of fluid retention rather than an underlying condition.

The swelling in the feet and ankles is usually mild and temporary.

When a person stands or sits for long periods throughout the day, gravity pulls blood into the legs and this increased pressure pushes fluid from the blood vessel into the soft tissue causing mild swelling.

Swelling related to gravity is called dependent edema and is more pronounced at the end of the day, which is why sock marks are typically worse in the evening.

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Ebola outbreak 2020: Is there a cure for ebola? New outbreak in Congo

The World Health Organisation’s director-general Tedros Adhanom said six cases had been identified by the Congo’s health ministry in the province’s capital, Mbandaka. Dr Adhanom added that the WHO’s response was already on its way to the area. Strangely enough, no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Mbandaka, despite more than 3,000 confirmed cases across the Congo.

Is there a cure for Ebola?

Ebola is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90 percent of the people who catch it, bringing terror to countries and communities.

Ebola’s rate of infection is so high that patients need to be treated in isolation by wearing protective clothing.

According to Doctors Without Borders, medical teams can help manage the symptoms of the virus by keeping patients hydrated, and by using pain-relief medication to help with fever and blood pressure.

A patient who recovers from Ebola immediately becomes immune to the strain of the virus they have contracted.

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An Ebola outbreak is considered over once 42 days have passed with no new confirmed cases of infection.

There is currently no cure for ebola, but there are two trial vaccines in progress.

The Merck vaccine offers an estimated 97.5 percent effective protection for 97.5 percent of its participants 10 days after being vaccinated.

Doctors without Borders writes: ‘This vaccine is already in use in the DRC, but due to limited availability and the fact that it is still being trialled, it’s currently only offered to the people most at risk.

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“That means frontline health workers and people who have been in contact with someone who has (or probably has) Ebola.”

A second experimental vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, has been given the go-ahead in the DRC as part of an extended clinical trial.

One drug which was used to treat ebola was Remdesivir, which is now being introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Remdesivir, manufactured by American pharmaceutical firm Gilead, helped control the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa before being discontinued due to ineffectively.

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What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Early on, the symptoms of Ebola are non-specific, which makes it very difficult to diagnose.

DWB writes: “The disease is often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, feeling weak, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat.

“This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding.

“Symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure. Some patients may go on to experience rashes, red eyes, hiccups, chest pains, difficulty breathing and swallowing.”

DWB’s emergency coordinator Henry Gray, said during the 2012 outbreak in Uganda: “Health workers are particularly susceptible to catching it so, along with treating patients, one of our main priorities is training health staff to reduce the risk of them catching the disease whilst caring for patients.

“We have to put in place extremely rigorous safety procedures to ensure that no health workers are exposed to the virus – through contaminated material from patients or medical waste infected with ebola.”

Ebola can be caught from both humans and animals, and is transmitted through close contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids.

Healthcare workers have frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients.

In certain areas of Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found dead or ill in the rainforest.

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