Long Covid- What is it and what help is available?

As you recover from Covid-19 you may need support to come to terms with the affect of the virus on your body and mind.
A young man wearing a face mask waiting at a bus stop

What is long covid?

After a covid-19 infection most people are expected to recover within 3 weeks. Around 10% of people will have symptoms that last longer, sometimes for several Months. This can be debilitating and confusing for the patient. If symptoms go on for longer than 12 weeks this is known as long covid.

The chance of developing long covid does not seem to be linked to how ill you were when you first got it, even people with very mild symptoms have been affected.

What symptoms might there be?

The most common symptoms have been pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and raised heart rate, persisting high temperature, sore throat, altered smell, dizziness, loss of appetite, new psychological issues like anxiety and depression, confusion, memory problems (commonly called brain fog) along with tummy problems. Some people have several of these that overlap and may change over time.

When should I go to my doctor?

The NHS recommends seeing your GP if it has been more than 4 weeks since your diagnosis of Covid-19 and you are worried about continuing symptoms.

What help can I receive in Wokingham?

Your GP could refer you to the Berkshire Long Covid Integrated Service (BLIS) for people who have been experiencing symptoms for 12 weeks or longer. The clinic is held once a week at Royal Berkshire Hospital and they can offer a remote or face to face consultation. They will be able to offer a full assessment of your physical and mental health with blood tests and any further investigations and then offer a management plan or appropriate referral to other specialties as required.

If the symptoms of long covid are making it difficult for you to manage daily life, such as shopping or collecting your prescriptions, you can get support from the . ‘One Front Door’ service

The NHS website https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ has advice about managing different symptoms.

For example, to manage breathlessness they recommend the following;

  • Pace and planning your activities, try not to rush or do things rapidly. Try and conserve your energy and get a balance between activity and rest.
  • Choose the best time of the day to do certain activities and plan ahead, thinking about what you might need to do the task.  
  • You may be able to break individual tasks down into smaller ones that are more manageable. It may be possible to spread the activities throughout the day or week and alternate lighter tasks with heavier ones.
  • Take rests before, during and after completing a task, frequent short rest periods are better than a few longer ones. The practice of resting before you become tired/ exhausted is very effective in helping to conserve your energy.
  • Do not overestimate what you can do. Try short bouts of exercise or tasks first and gradually build the frequency. It is easy to think you are fitter than you are and then overdo it.
  • Do not stop doing the things that are making you feel breathless. This can make the problem worse because your muscles will get weaker from not being used so you will then feel more breathless.
  • If you are using a walking aid, such as a stick or a frame, lean forward on it when you feel breathless. This can reduce the work of the upper body and help you recover your breath quicker.

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