Long Covid research given £18.5m funding - everything we know about the condition so far

Friday, 19th February 2021, 3:51 pm
Updated Friday, 19th February 2021, 3:53 pm
Some people who are struggling with the condition have reported symptoms of breathlessness, muscle aches and severe fatigue, among others (Photo: Shutterstock)

Long Covid is a health condition which can affect some of those who have previously contracted Covid-19, but on a long-term basis.

Some people who are struggling with the condition have reported symptoms of breathlessness, muscle aches and severe fatigue, among others.

Although some information is known about long Covid, the Government has recently announced that it is investing funding of £18.5million for further research of the condition.

The funding will help research projects to help better understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of the condition, and will be given to four studies in the hope of identifying the causes of long Covid, alongside effective therapies from those who suffer from it.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that the projects were chosen “after a UK-wide call to find ambitious and comprehensive research programmes to help address the physical and mental health effects of Covid-19 in those experiencing longer-term symptoms but who do not require admittance into hospital.”

What do we know so far about long Covid?

For some people, Covid-19 “can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone,” explains the NHS.

This is sometimes called post-Covid-19 syndrome, but is more generally referred to as ‘long COVID’.

The amount of time it takes to recover from coronavirus is different for everybody, explains the NHS, with some feeling better in a few days or weeks, and most making “a full recovery within 12 weeks.” However, for some people, symptoms can last longer than this.

According to the NHS, the chances of having long-term symptoms of coronavirus does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get the virus, as people who had mild symptoms at first can still suffer from long-term problems.

There are a multitude of symptoms you can have after Covid-19, with common long Covid symptoms including:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

When should I see a doctor?

If you're worried about symptoms four or more weeks after having Covid-19 then you should speak to a doctor, said the NHS.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they're having on your life, and may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out anything else that could be causing them.

Your doctor will also talk to you about the care and support you might need.

Can I do anything to relieve symptoms?

If you do have long Covid, then there are certain things you may be able to do to help relieve your symptoms, explains Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, Phil Day.

Mr Day says that eating well and choosing “foods that are high in protein and are energy rich to help support the maintenance of your immune system and increase energy levels,” can help.

Practicing techniques to try and help improve your sleep, including “getting up at the same time every day, avoiding taking naps during the day and not going to bed feeling hungry or thirsty,” can also be beneficial.

This is because improving the quality and length of time you sleep can then help with your recovery by increasing your energy levels, and therefore help you to do your day-to-day activities, adds Mr Day.

Engaging in regular activity to help you to become stronger and fitter can also help. Mr Day says: “When becoming active again, it is key to start slowly and build your level of activity over time.

“Do a little, but often and allow for rest between activities. For example, aim for a 30 minute walk by starting with a 5 minute walk without stopping (or less if you feel breathless and tired). Then increase this in staggered intervals each time.”