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Long Covid symptoms: Most common symptoms to look out for and patients have their say

Fitness & Health:

The NHS defines long Covid as “multi-system condition with a wide range of debilitating symptoms”. For many it is simply the sustained experience of symptoms of COVID-19. The severity of long Covid can vary from patient to patient; some can continue working at a high level while others have been forced to leave their jobs. Express.co.uk spoke to two patients about their experiences, both of long Covid and the NHS’s response.

Tracie Roberts, 54, works in the IT sector and came down with long Covid during the first years of the pandemic.

Speaking to Express.co.uk she said: “Before I got COVID-19 I was a very active person, going to the gym every day and working full time in IT for the public sector but COVID-19 completely debilitated me.

“It started off with a really bad headache, then a sore throat followed by breathing problems, after several weeks it progressively got worse, [then I had] chest and back pains. My oxygen levels were really low and results from a CT scan revealed that I had permanent lung damage, with capacity at only 70 percent and swelling on my brain.”

After Claire went to the NHS and visited hospital several times she said she felt she was “going round in circles as NHS consultants just didn’t know what to do to treat it”.

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Claire McVittie, 33, is from Manchester; she was a primary school teacher and former marathon runner before she was left unable to walk by long Covid.

The impact on her was substantial: “I was training for a marathon and that summer I hiked over 150 miles of countryside and mountains. Shortly after, I contracted COVID-19… I felt really unwell, hot, tired and began to get more and more breathless.

“I also lost my sense of smell and taste, and was shaking constantly. Before long, I was struggling to hold anything in my hands and was unable to look after myself.

“I had become very reliant on others, I wanted to feel strong enough to go outside but even that was out of my reach because I thought I might not be able to make it back.”

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Despite their successes, long Covid remains a vicious foe for the two million people living with the condition in the UK.

Jon Taberner is a senior rehabilitation specialist on Nuffield Health’s Covid Rehabilitation Programme.

Like the NHS, he describes long Covid as a “multi-system disorder”, one which is often “underdiagnosed due to the fluctuating nature of symptoms”.

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Taberner added the symptoms “can appear and subside differently week to week seeming without any pattern, which is why it is difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat”.

The most common symptoms according to Taberner are:
• Chronic fatigue
• Breathlessness
• Chest pai
• Dizziness
• Joint pain
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Tinnitus
• Earaches.

Taberner said Nuffield Health’s programme had resulted in significant progress in patients, with just under half reporting improvements in their functional capacity and over 50 percent experiencing improvements in their wellbeing.


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