Long-COVID may not be the only long-term respiratory illness – study

Science and Health

Researchers at London’s Queen Mary University have found that COVID may not be the only respiratory disease with long-term effects, with several others also showing evidence of long-term aftereffects.

The study published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal showed that several other respiratory infections had similar long-term effects.

The researchers were prompted to begin this research after the numerous reports of “long-COVID” were confirmed earlier this year, they hope the research will show that long-term effects exist for many other infections and that more research will be done on these effects.

The research confirmed that those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were more likely to have a range of symptoms such as “gastrointestinal, neurological, musculoskeletal, and cardiopulmonary problems” and that these symptoms were more likely to be severe.

Those with “long-COVID” were more likely to have symptoms such as problems with taste or smell and lightheadedness or dizziness.

A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak (credit: NEXU SCIENCE COMMUNICATION/VIA REUTERS)

A severe infection with COVID-19 was more likely to lead to serious long-COVID symptoms and a greater reduction in quality of life.

Long-term symptoms

Researchers also noted that the more severe the long-term symptoms were, the more likely someone was to report having long-COVID, leading them to question whether long-COVID symptoms were actually being underreported.

The data also led them to believe that other long-term effects from respiratory infections were also going unrecognized, but added that as of yet symptoms for such effects were not known.

The largest divergence in symptoms between long-COVID and other long-term respiratory infections was for memory loss, hair loss, and problems with taste and smell. 

The researchers hope that this data will be used to help provide better post-infection care for patients and will enable medical professionals to better understand long-term effects of respiratory infections.