Post‑COVID‑19 Symptom Burden:

What is Long COVID and How Should We Manage It?

SYKES ET AL, Lung Journal

The findings in a nutshell

Patients who contracted COVID-19 pneumonia as part of the first wave of the pandemic and were treated in a large teaching hospital in England, were followed up for information in relation to ongoing symptoms via telehealth. 86% of patients reported at least one residual symptom at follow up, which was not necessarily correlated with the severity of acute COVID-19 infection. The findings encourage further review of biopsychosocial factors that may play a greater role in its presentation.

Overview of the paper

A total of 134 patients attended a routine follow up appointment approximately one and a half to four months after their admission to Hull Hospital with COVID-19. Of this group, all had radiological evidence of COVID-19 pneumonia, 87% required oxygen and/or respiratory support, 80% were treated in hospital wards and the other 20% were treated in intensive care. A clinical pathway was established, and patients were followed up based on their symptoms and referred on for further investigation/services, such as a chest x-ray or referral to a specialist.

The most common side effect was breathlessness, followed by myalgia (muscle pain), anxiety, extreme fatigue and sleep disturbance. Females were more likely to experience anxiety, low mood, myalgia, sleep disturbance and memory impairment.

Long COVID presents very similarly to that of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), with some shared epidemiological markers such as increased prevalence in females and those with obesity.

Implications for Australian workplaces

There may be further scope to review post long COVID diagnosis multi-faceted rehabilitation protocols likened to that of the CFS services in the UK and incorporate this into best practice return to work programs.

Increased COVID-19 claims may require insurers and employers to review what supports and procedures they have in place for managing those with long COVID. This may help pave the way for a more holistic approach to rehabilitation.

To find out more about Post‑COVID‑19 Symptom Burden: What is Long COVID and How Should We Manage It? read the full article here.

Date published: February 2021

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