Scientists uncover ‘long colds’ and long lasting covid existence

Long-term symptom profiles: COVID-19 vs acute respiratory infections.


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Some common symptoms of the ‘long cold’ include coughing, stomach pain, and diarrhea lasting more than four weeks after getting sick. How sick you were initially plays a significant role in whether you’ll have these long-lasting symptoms. But scientists are still trying to determine why some people have them while others don’t.

This research suggests that after non-COVID respiratory infections like colds, the flu, or pneumonia, health problems might stick around for a while. Scientists have yet to prove that these symptoms are as severe or last as long as Covid.

A research study supported by Barts Charity looked at people who had COVID-19 and those with other respiratory infections that were not COVID-19. They wanted to see what kinds of long-lasting symptoms people had. People with COVID-19 were likelier to have problems like feeling dizzy and losing their sense of taste and smell.

Even though we know about long-term COVID-19, few studies have compared it to other respiratory infections.

This study is part of COVIDENCE UK, a national survey about COVID-19 led by Queen Mary University of London. They looked at data from over 10,000 adults in the UK. They used questionnaires and data analysis to discover common symptoms.

Giulia Vivaldi, a researcher on COVIDENCE UK from the Queen Mary University of London and the study’s lead author said: “Our findings shine a light not only on the impact of long Covid on people’s lives but also other respiratory infections. A lack of awareness—or even the lack of a common term —prevents reporting and diagnosing these conditions.”

“As research into long Covid continues, we need to take the opportunity to investigate and consider the lasting effects of other acute respiratory infections.”

“These ‘long’ infections are difficult to diagnose and treat primarily because of a lack of diagnostic tests and many possible symptoms. There have been more than 200 investigated for long Covid alone.”

“Professor Adrian Martineau, who leads COVIDENCE UK and is a professor at Queen Mary University of London, said, ‘Our findings might make sense to people who’ve had long-lasting symptoms after a respiratory infection, even if their COVID-19 tests were negative. We need to keep studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections to understand why some people have symptoms that last a long time. This knowledge can help us determine the best ways to treat and care for them.”

Victoria King, who works at Barts Charity, said, ‘We quickly supported COVIDENCE UK when COVID-19 started to help understand its risks and effects. These findings show that people can have long-lasting symptoms after not just COVID-19 but also other respiratory infections. Learning about long Covid and its treatments is important, and studies like this also raise awareness about other respiratory infections that might not be getting noticed.”

This study contributes to our understanding of long-term symptoms associated with COVID-19. It sheds light on the potential existence of ‘long colds’ following other acute respiratory infections. As research into long Covid continues, the findings underscore the importance of considering similar long-lasting health impacts in individuals recovering from non-COVID respiratory infections. 

Further studies and awareness-building efforts will be crucial to recognize and address these prolonged symptoms and improve the care and treatment options available for affected individuals.

Journal reference:

  1. Giulia Vivaldi, Paul E. Pfeffer et al., Long-term symptom profiles after COVID-19 vs other acute respiratory infections: an analysis of data from the COVIDENCE UK study. eClinicalMedicine. DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.102251.