Written by Amy Beecham
New research is shining a light on the sub-types of long Covid and their distinct symptoms.
A new study examining 1,459 people living with long Covid has identified three different types of the condition, all with their own set of symptoms.
As of June 2022, an estimated 2 million people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long Covid – symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus infection that were not explained by something else.
According to the NHS, common long Covid symptoms include: extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, joint pain, changes in sense of smell or taste and tinnitus among other things.
However, researchers from King’s College London split sufferers into three groups:
- Those with neurological symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and headache – most commonly found among those who became infected when the most dominant strains were alpha and delta
- A second group who experienced respiratory symptoms, including chest pain and shortness of breath. This was found more commonly among those infected during the first wave of the virus
- A final group experiencing a range of symptoms including heart palpitations, muscle ache and pain, and changes in skin and hair
The three sets of symptoms were seen in all variants, researchers added.
According to the ONS, long Covid is highest among women, those aged 35 to 69 years, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with other health conditions or disabilities.
Long Covid sufferers have long fought for recognition of their symptoms and for the greater provision of services to help those who are suffering.
“These data show clearly that post-Covid syndrome is not just one condition, but appears to have several subtypes,” concluded clinical lead author Dr Claire Steves.
“Understanding the root causes of these subtypes may help in finding treatment strategies. Moreover, these data emphasise the need for long Covid services to incorporate a personalised approach sensitive to the issues of each individual.”
For more information on long Covid, visit the NHS website.
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