Pandemic: Recovered, but not healthy: Long-Covid remains in focus – Wikipedia

Long-time covid patient doing breathing training in rehabilitation clinic. Corona infection is not always archived when the state of recovery is reached. Photo: Friso Gentsch / dpa


Corona incidents are increasing, summer wave fear spreads – the pervasive clinical picture of Long Covid is fueling uncertainty. Experts see room for improvement when it comes to education about long-term consequences.

Berlin (dpa) – Corona infection is not always a thing of the past when a recovered state is reached. For some people, the long-term consequences cause great suffering, frustration – and above all, helplessness.

Because even more than two years after Corona, knowledge about Long Covid is still incomplete. While many studies aim to approximate the clinical picture, experts caution a case of presentation. How experts currently view disease and how presentations of information should bring light into darkness:

German patient guidelines define complaints existing for more than four weeks after infection as ‘Long Covid’, and lasting more than twelve weeks as a subtype of ‘Post Covid’. A statement issued by the federal government’s Corona Expert Council in May said that according to studies, the majority of those treated in intensive care units with a severe course of Covid 19 suffer from long-term complications. Even after a mild infection, ten percent met the post-Covid criteria.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected in Germany alone

Jördis Frommhold, a lung specialist and chief medical officer at Median Klinik Heiligendamm, assumes that there are hundreds of thousands of long-term Covid patients in Germany. There is consensus in expert circles that complete protection from vaccination clearly reduces the risk of long-term consequences after infection with corona. According to an English-language study, basic vaccines and boosters reduce the risk of long-term Covid-19 infection by 50 percent, according to an Israeli study by two-thirds.

However: Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) recently indicated via Twitter based on British data that many people vaccinated in the omicron wave have also been affected by Long Covid. He explained that, however, without vaccination, the number would be much higher.



Diffuse clinical picture and complex diagnoses

Frommold emphasizes how fascinating the gradation of potential symptoms is – many of them have little or no limitations in daily life, and others can, in extreme cases, lead to long-term inability to work or bedridden. Christoph Kleinschnitz, director of the Neurology Clinic at Essen University Hospital, reported in an interview with the German news agency (dpa) a “huge basket of symptoms”. In daily clinical practice, more than 500 patients with long-term COVID-19 have seen, and data from more than 170 were included in a study that was recently submitted for publication.

One of the most common symptoms is pathological fatigue known as “fatigue”. Impairment in performance, memory or concentration, or ‘brain fog’ (brain fog) often occurs. Word discovery disorders and other cognitive limitations are often complained of, as well as general weakness, shortness of breath or shortness of breath, and a persistent cough.

The expert council paper states that “Skeletal malformations of organs often remain after an acute course of Covid-19, but are rarely detected after a mild course of the disease.” Lauterbach recently cautioned that there is growing evidence from studies that Lung Covid could be linked to persistent encephalitis.

More offers and information for those affected

In its paper, the expert council calls for the expansion of national presentations for people who have subsequent complaints. With the increasing number of people affected, the provision of care is far from sufficient. Private outpatient clinics and rehabilitation clinics should be established. In addition, more funding for research and targeted education is needed.

The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) recently launched a media attack in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Health through an online portal. Affected people will find well-founded information, support tips, and daily recommendations here. The portal also provides information about support offers in the course of work.

In principle, Kleinschnitz finds such extensive information presentations useful and points out the usefulness of further training on the topic. In the future, an interactive exhibition in Berlin will also present an innovative way to enable the disease experience, at least for a short time. Simulations such as body suits are intended to demonstrate fatigue or shortness of breath.

Expert: ‘One Pill’ will never exist

But what is known about the treatment? According to Kleinschnits, the disease is best approached with a concept that includes the different disciplines of medicine and psychology. “The only pill against Long Covid, in my opinion, will never be there.” The first step is “Listen, take it seriously, check carefully.”

From the expert’s point of view, the following applies: those affected should not withdraw and should remain in everyday life as much as possible, but in no way confuse themselves. In this context, says Fromold, Long Covid is also often a merit problem. Doctors try to relieve the individual symptoms of sufferers. Certain breathing techniques can relieve shortness of breath or shortness of breath, and physical therapy can help with muscle weakness.

In most patients he knows, Kleinschnitz says, symptoms have greatly improved or even disappeared after six or nine months at the latest. But some will have to suffer symptoms for much longer. However, he also points out that, in his view, many sufferers must first begin with psychotherapy and psychotherapy before opting for laborious and sometimes very expensive medical treatment methods.

He doesn’t want to be misunderstood: “It doesn’t mean that people imagine or mimic their symptoms.” It is clear that symptoms and suffering are present. “We just think that formation, often in long-term situations, is less organic and more mental and psychological.”

Looking to the future: Long Covid as a perennial favourite?

According to the expert panel, illnesses associated with Long Covid are likely to put long-term stress on society and the health and social security system. Neurologist Kleinschnitz is cautiously optimistic. “There is no reason to despair over Long Covid.” It assumes that at least 80 percent of those infected have recovered within a “reasonable period of time”. “Long Covid has to be taken seriously and dealt with. But we will have a good grip on it as a society within the next five or 10 years.”

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