Dr. John Sheehan
MB, BCH, BAO, DCH, DME, MICGP, MRCGP, MD
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic occurred many people in Cork and Ireland have contacted COVID-19. While the vast majority of patients have recovered from COVID-19 there is increasing evidence of Post Covid Syndrome in a number of patients with persistent symptoms.
Some patients have described feeling fully recovered, then experiencing COVID-19 symptoms again, and feeling like their lungs were “on fire” for some weeks afterwards. There is uncertainty about whether this is a relapse due to the virus remaining at low levels in the body and bring reactivated, or if this is a reinfection.
Long term physical, cognitive and mental health problems have also been found to be relatively common in patients discharged from intensive care from illnesses other than COVID-19, with the length of time in intensive care influencing the long term health impacts.
Some survivors of acute bouts of COVID-19 experience a range of persistent symptoms some lasting for weeks, or even months that include profound tiredness, trouble thinking or remembering, muscle pain, headaches, and more.
The symptoms in many of these unrecovered patients are “highly suggestive” of myalgic encephalomyelitis, the disabling illness also commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. “This is something we really need to seriously look at,” said Anthony Fauci the US infections disease specialist.
In recent decades, researchers have documented persistent sequela among some people who had acute infections of diseases like SARS, West Nile virus, and the 2009 H1NI influenza virus. Why some people are vulnerable to these chronic symptoms isn’t known.
With the possibility of rising cases (clusters of ME/CFS followed other infectious outbreaks like SARS in Hong Kong in 2003), those in the ME/CFS community are saying now is the time for more study of the early stages of COVID-19. If we can learn about the factors that separate those who regain their health from those who remain sick, better care can be offered to patients if they develop ME/CFS. Hopefully this will occur. Every week new information emerges about post Covid syndrome.
As we learn more about the long term effects of COVID -19, we will have a better understanding of symptoms to look out for, and how to manage them long term.
Due to time commitments this is my final article for the Glanmire News. I would like to thank everyone for their help and support over the past couple of years.
Best Wishes, John.