MANY Covid victims are still struggling with bouts of illness seven months after first being infected, a major review warns.
It claims the numbers suffering “debilitating” long-term effects are on the rise – with tens of thousands now affected.
Experts from the National Institute for Health Research warn “long Covid” is not one single condition, but could actually be four different syndromes.
Ongoing symptoms can include breathlessness, chronic fatigue, "brain fog", anxiety and stress.
Meanwhile, other patients have been found to have suffered permanent organ damage.
Some have also reported "floating" symptoms whereby they suffer an illness linked to one part of the body – such as the lungs or brain.
After these go away, new ailments arise in a different part of the body.
Worrying, medics warn it is not just hospitalised victims who go on to struggle with long Covid.
They are also seeing patients with a mild initial infection still suffering from a variety of symptoms months later.
NHS bosses have warned 60,000 people could be suffering from long Covid.
But review author Dr Elaine Maxwell said: “It’s reasonable to assume it’s larger than people have estimated already.”
She warned more work is needed to help sufferers who are currently "not believed" when they seek help due to the wide range of symptoms.
The review broadly categorised the four potential long Covid conditions as – post intensive care syndrome, post viral fatigue syndrome, permanent organ damage and long term Covid syndrome.
Some may suffer these simultaneously.
Dr Maxwell added: "We know from a number of surveys both in the UK and across the world, that a significant number of people experience ongoing effects after a Covid infection.
"The list of symptoms is huge and covers every part of the body and brain.
"We heard from people who are still unable to work, study or care for dependents several months after their initial infection.
"We believe that the term 'long Covid' is being used as a capsule for more than one syndrome, possibly up to four.
"And we believe that the lack of distinction between these syndromes may explain the challenges people are having in being believed and accessing services.
"Some people experience classic post critical illness symptoms, others experience fatigue and brain fog in a way that's consistent with post viral fatigue syndrome.
"Some people have clear evidence of permanent organ damage caused by the virus, particularly lung damage and heart damage.
"But a significant group have debilitating symptoms that do not fit any of those three categories. They describe the rollercoaster of symptoms that move around the body."
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