Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children
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No two cases of Long Covid are the same, but the prevailing issue is an inability to shake off symptoms. Another common problem is a decline in memory and concentration in the months that follow an infection. According to new findings, these symptoms may be more pronounced in patients who experienced high levels of stress before the onset of their condition.
Researchers have warned Long Covid could give rise to a generation affected by disability, but mitigating the risk factors could help prevent this.
New research, published in medRxiv, has shed light on the matter after suggesting stress may play a key role in the development of long Covid.
According to the research, it may also have the greatest impact in regards to lingering cognitive problems.
The study authors noted: “Results suggest a key role of stress in the time preceding the acute COVID-19 infection for the development of long Covid and for difficulty with cognition specifically.
READ MORE: Long Covid symptoms: The 14 most common long-term effects
The new findings, which have yet to be peer-reviewed, suggest that tackling stress could help lessen the burden of Long Covid for millions.
Medscape summarised the study’s findings with the following statement: “The […] findings point to the importance of mitigating worries and experiences of adversity during pandemic both to reduce their psychological impact and also to help reduce the societal burden of longer-term illness.”
Symptoms of Long Covid generally include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, changes to taste and smell, and joint pain.
Cognitive deficits, such as issues with memory and concentration, or forgetfulness, have also been reported.
New research conducted by the University of Cambridge has shown seven in ten long COVID-19 patients experience concentration and memory problems months after the initial onset of their disease.
In the study, of 181 long Covid patients, 78 percent reported difficulty concentrating, 69 percent reported brain fog, 68 percent reported forgetfulness, and 60 percent reported problems findings the right words in speech.
The researchers noted: “These self-reported symptoms were reflected in significantly lower ability to remember words and pictures in cognitive tests.”
How does stress affect Covid?
Medical circles have previously drawn attention to the relationship between stress and Covid, as prolonged anxiety is known to weaken the immune system.
What’s more, cortisol – which is a key player in the stress response – has been shown to impact the severity of COVID-19 in previous studies.
Kavita Vedhara, professor of health psychology from the University of Nottingham, said in 2020: “High levels of cortisol are associated with poor [COVID-19] outcomes, and drugs that block the hormone seem to improve outcomes.”
How to deal with Long Covid symptoms
Earlier this month, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) issued advice to patients suffering from long-term cognitive effects.
The body stated: “It can help to make a clear plan before approaching any new or complicated problem or situation.
“Break it down into steps and keep checking your plan as you follow it.”
The prevalence of memory issues has fanned concerns that persistent cognitive deficits could pave the way to dementia in later life.
Further research is needed, however, to elucidate whether brain damage caused by the virus will have long-term implications for cognitive health.
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