Two thirds of patients receiving treatment for long Covid at a specialist US clinic had either mild symptoms when contracting the virus or no symptoms at all, doctors said, at a regional forum on the condition.
Extreme fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog were the most common symptoms reported by patients on the Mayo Clinic's Covid Activity Rehabilitation Programme.
But profuse sweating, constipation and hearing loss are other symptoms now commonly reported in those with the condition.
Dr Greg Vanichkachorn, the US clinic’s medical director, said vaccines had helped bring the pandemic under control, but long-haul Covid remained an unknown frontier.
“Long haul Covid can affect anyone. Everyday we are learning more about long haul Covid. Despite all of our best efforts people are still suffering and this is not going away,” he said.
“Patients are getting better, but there are some who will have these symptoms as the new baseline in their life.
“When we originally started to encounter this condition we thought the risk factors would be older age or high blood pressure.
“But 75 per cent of our patients had very mild symptoms and did not require any medical care at all (during their infection).”
RAK Hospital rehabilitation programme
The UAE reported 73 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, taking the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 740,209.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 10 to 20 per cent of Covid-19 patients experience lingering symptoms for weeks to months following an acute infection.
ARISE, the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, is a network of private sector entities led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).
To help patients suffering from long covid symptoms, ARISE launched a comprehensive ‘Online Covid-19 Rehabilitation Programme’ in association with RAK Hospital.
The programme launched in March, and can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world.
Symptoms of long Covid
Research from the programme found chronic fatigue was the most common symptom in UAE patients suffering with long Covid, and experienced by 47.5 per cent of people.
A further 42.5 per cent of research participants said they had trouble controlling existing chronic ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and obesity post-Covid, compared with 39 per cent globally.
The study also found 37.5 per cent of patients complained of insomnia, 32.5 per cent felt depressed, 27.5 per cent said they faced confusion and brain fog, while loss of taste and smell was experienced by 20 per cent of Covid long-haulers.
“The primary problem we find is that patients are extremely reconditioned, so we help patients return strength to their bodies in a safe way,” said Dr Vanichkachorn.
“Post exertion malaise or fatigue can last for hours or days after activity so many patients have a hard time completing simple tasks without experiencing a flare up of symptoms.
“Unfortunately we have not yet found a quick cure for this condition.
“Long covid is very rare in vaccinated patients and those who do get it seem to recover much faster than those who are unvaccinated.
“The vaccine is playing a role, but we are also seeing patients a lot earlier, maybe at five weeks rather than three months into long haul Covid.
“This may be because they are getting treated earlier than before.”