London: Fatigue is the symptom that most affects the daily lives of long Covid patients, and it can affect the quality of life more than some cancers, according to a new study. The study was led by researchers at UCL and the University of Exeter. The research, published in BMJ Open and funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), examines the impact of long Covid on the lives of over 3,750 patients who were referred to a long Covid clinic and used a digital app as part of their NHS treatment for the condition.
Patients were asked to complete questionnaires on the app about how long Covid was affecting them – considering the impact of long Covid on their day-to-day activities, levels of fatigue, depression, anxiety, breathlessness, brain fog, and their quality of life.
The researchers discovered that many long-term Covid patients were extremely unwell and had fatigue scores that were worse or comparable to persons with cancer-related anaemia or severe kidney impairment. They also had lower health-related quality of life scores than those with advanced metastatic malignancies, such as stage IV lung cancer.
Overall, the team found that the impact of long Covid on the daily activities of patients was worse than that of stroke patients and was comparable to that of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Henry Goodfellow, who co-led the study alongside the late Professor Elizabeth Murray (both UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health), said: “Up to around 17% of people who get Covid go on to develop long Covid. However, the impact of the condition on patients’ day-to-day lives isn’t fully understood.
Our results have found that long Covid can have a devastating effect on the lives of patients – with fatigue having the biggest impact on everything from social activities to work, chores and maintaining close relationships.
Not only does long Covid negatively impact the lives of patients on an individual level, the researchers also believe that it could have a significant economic and social impact on the country.
In order to be referred to a long Covid clinic, a patient must have had symptoms in keeping with long Covid for at least 12 weeks after an acute infection.
Over 90 per cent of long Covid patients using the app were of working age (18-65) and 51% said they had been unable to work for at least one day in the previous month, with 20% unable to work at all.
Meanwhile, 71 per cent of patients were female. As working-age women make up a majority of the health and social care workforce, the impact of long Covid on their ability to function may add additional pressures to already stretched services.
Dr Goodfellow said,
We hope that a greater understanding of the symptoms and impact of long Covid in these patients will help the NHS and policymakers to target limited resources by adapting existing services and designing new ones to better meet the needs of patients with long Covid.
According to the Office for National Statistics, around 1.4 million people in the UK had symptoms of long Covid as of July 2022. Alongside fatigue, patients typically experience breathlessness, anxiety, depression and brain fog.
However, this is the first study to report on the impact of the condition on day-to-day functioning and health-related quality of life in patients who have been referred for specialist rehabilitation in long Covid clinics across England.
Dr Goodfellow said,
Our findings show that fatigue should be an important focus for clinical care and the design of rehabilitation services. Post-Covid assessment services should consider focusing on assessing and treating fatigue to maximise the recovery and return to work for sufferers of long Covid.
Co-author Professor William Henley, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said,
Long Covid is an invisible condition, and many people are left trying to manage significant changes to how they can function. Shockingly, our research has revealed that long Covid can leave people with worse fatigue and quality of life than some cancers, yet the support and understanding is not at the same level. We urgently need more research to enable the development of evidence-based services to support people trying to manage this debilitating new condition.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.