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5 things to know about persistent COVID syndrome

The number of COVID-19 cases in the US is on the rise again, with some people facing the syndrome Prolonged COVID (Long COVID), which can lead to a variety of symptoms, severely impact the patient’s daily life.

Although persistent COVID syndrome is quite common, research on this syndrome is very limited, so there is still no specific definition and treatment. Signs of this syndrome can range from mild to severe, with symptoms potentially lasting for months, even more than a year. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is aiming to study persistent COVID syndrome this summer.

Although there is not much data, but on May 17 has an article summarizing 5 things to know about prolonged COVID syndrome.

People with asymptomatic COVID-19 may still face persistent COVID syndrome

Patients with severe COVID-19 or hospitalization are generally thought to be more likely to have long-term COVID-19 after recovering from their first infection. However, some studies show that a significant proportion of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases have persistent COVID.

Specifically, a study by the non-governmental organization FAIR Health found that nearly 20% of people with COVID-19 were asymptomatic when they were first infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, experiencing at least 1 COVID symptom that lasted about 1 year. months after illness. The most common symptoms in this study were pain, dyspnea, fatigue, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

Several factors increase the risk of prolonged COVID

Recent studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes, people with restored Epstein-Barr virus activity in their blood, and people with autoantibodies in the immune system are at high risk for prolonged COVID-19. .

The Epstein-Barr virus is a common virus that many people contract as children. Viruses usually “sleep” in the body and can be reactivated. Whereas, autoantibodies are antibodies produced by the immune system. By mistaking the foreign substance for healthy tissue in the body, these antibodies cause a reaction, or damage, to the tissues or organs themselves. Many autoimmune disorders are caused by autoantibodies. According to the NIH, an estimated 32 million people in the United States have autoantibodies.

However, the researchers stress that it would be wrong to conclude that only sick people have prolonged COVID. This syndrome can present both in healthy people with no underlying medical conditions and in asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.

Persistence of persistent COVID is still being assessed

It is unclear how many people have sustained COVID-19 at this time. Early studies estimate that about 10-30% of people who recover from COVID-19 have persistent COVID. However, later studies showed that about 67% of patients had this syndrome. The NIH notes that one factor that makes it difficult to determine the probability of a persistent COVID syndrome occurring is the wide range of symptoms that can be confused with other illnesses. Testing cannot currently be used to identify persistent COVID symptoms.

In addition, length of time with COVID is also being considered, affecting the rate of reporting symptoms. Some health officials suggest that a patient has long-lasting COVID when they develop symptoms 3-6 weeks after contracting the illness, while other researchers suggest that symptoms must appear 6 months later. first illness.

Persistent COVID may be considered a disability in some cases

According to US Fair Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance, people with COVID-19, or who have been diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, may be considered disabled under relevant civil rights laws. state, if these symptoms are physically or emotionally damaging, limit your ability to perform major life activities. However, in the updated guidance, the EEOC emphasizes that determining whether a person is disabled due to COVID-19 needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” and others seriously affect the health of people with prolonged COVID. A study in the UK found that people with COVID-19 so severe that they need intensive treatment, have a cognitive aging rate equivalent to 20 years. On average, participants in this study had had COVID-19 before 6 months and had much lower cognitive test scores than the general population.

Antiviral drugs may be potential treatment for persistent COVID syndrome

Jim Heath, head of the NIH’s long-term COVID-19 research group, said that current antiviral drugs could help treat persistent COVID syndrome. The expert noted that much of the evidence on antiviral drugs supporting long-term treatment of COVID is exaggerated, because in fact, the drug was only approved for use in December 2021. Therefore, it is too early to confirm the effect of the drug. However, scientists are certain that viral load in the blood and severity of illness also play an important role in persistent COVID syndrome. Therefore, antiviral drugs are also considered a suitable treatment for some patients. Heath notes that the long-term COVID syndrome covers a wide range of symptoms and that antivirals won’t help everyone.

A small study conducted by scientists from the University of California, San Francisco found that persistent COVID symptoms were slightly reduced in study participants who took Pfizer’s Paxlovid for several weeks, after the results were available. tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the use of antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid and Molnupiravir by Merck and Ridgeback for the long-term treatment of COVID has not yet been officially authorized. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use guidelines, the use of antiviral drugs should be monitored for several days from symptom onset.

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