A corona infection can limit those affected in the long term. Doctors then speak of long-covid or post-covid syndrome because they are persistent symptoms. They can persist even after the acute illness has subsided.
“There is still relatively little data on this – but systematic long-term studies are still missing,” says neurologist Prof. Kathrin Reetz from the Neurological Clinic at RWTH Aachen University.
But what can be seen from the studies already available and initial experience from consultation hours: The most common long-covid symptoms are persistent fatigue and reduced resilience, pain in muscles and joints, smell and taste disorders as well as attention and concentration disorders.
“In a recently published study in almost 2500 patients it was also shown that after weeks of the Covid-19 illness there was still difficulty breathing,” says Reetz.
Long Covid even after mild courses
“We know from our consultation hours that an emotional imbalance is often reported. Many say they are just different and no longer so resilient, ”says the doctor. It also affects young people who are in the middle of their working life and who previously had no difficulties in everyday life.
The data available so far indicate that an increasing number of people with a severe course of the disease in hospital can develop such long-Covid symptoms. But according to very rough estimates so far, according to the doctor, ten to twenty percent of those who had a mild course or who showed no symptoms despite a corona infection are also affected.
Special consultation hours are offered
For those affected, the first point of contact is ideally a so-called post-Covid consultation, which is already available at various university clinics. Experienced doctors can classify and objectify the problems described there – for example, in the case of perceived olfactory disorders by performing olfactory tests or in the case of memory disorders by neuropsychological testing.
“This is important because there can be differences between your own perception of the complaints and the objectification of them,” explains Reetz, who is also Vice President of the German Brain Foundation. “After the complaints have been classified, therapy can then also take place if necessary – whether for example medication is prescribed for pain, or neuropsychological training or occupational therapy for poor concentration.”
Expert recommendation: keep a symptom diary
She considers it helpful if those affected keep a symptom diary. “This makes it easier to understand the course of complaints, especially when they fluctuate.” This helps the medical professionals with the assessment. And you yourself may also better understand your own complaints and how they occur and when.
In general, the German Brain Foundation recommends: You should give yourself a few days after recovering from Covid 19 disease. Usually the disturbed sense of smell and taste is then reflected. It is similar for headaches. If you develop neurological symptoms such as problems with concentration or tingling in the limbs, but only after you have apparently survived the infection, you should seek medical advice. If necessary, the family doctor can refer you to a neurological practice.
The duration of the symptoms in post-Covid syndrome varies
The duration and severity of the long Covid symptoms can vary greatly from patient to patient. “It’s too early to make predictions now,” says Reetz. “Some of our patients from the spring still have these symptoms, others got better quickly. We just need more long-term studies here in order to be able to give an answer. ”
According to the Brain Foundation, patients affected by Covid-19 long-term effects are no longer contagious. Most of them are no longer a risk for others ten days after the start of the corona infection. But if you want to be sure, you can test again for the virus after the acute Covid 19 symptoms have subsided. (dpa / tmn)