Corona: These late effects are well known

Corona: These late effects are well known

Research on the coronavirus is ongoing, and the late effects have been researched more intensively. Loss of taste, restricted lung function, memory loss: The list of late effects of COVID-19 is getting longer and longer because the coronavirus can affect all organs. Over 200 known symptoms after an infection are now summarized long and post-COVID. Which aftereffects of a coronavirus infection are particularly common, and what is known about them?

Corona’s long-term consequence? Loss of taste and smell

The loss of the sense of smell and taste is now considered a typical symptom of an infection with the coronavirus, even if this symptom occurs less frequently than before since the spread of the omicron variant. Many infected people report a sudden loss of both senses. An altered sense of smell or taste is also possible. Most recover their sense of smell and taste after the infection clears, but the loss lasts longer for some.

Researchers cannot yet say how long the loss of smell and taste will last. According to the current guidelines on post- and long-COVID, the symptom disappears after four to eight weeks in around 90 per cent of those affected. This is probably because the olfactory system has a complex structure; the responsible neurons must form again, which can take a long time. Taste cells typically take up to 14 days to regenerate.

Aftereffect: Lung function restricted by Corona

Even during the COVID-19 illness, many of those affected are struggling with symptoms of respiratory infections – including significantly reduced lung function and difficulty in breathing.

These limitations can remain after the infection has been overcome: many affected report months after the illness that they are quickly out of breath or have other lung problems. However, since the lungs are organs with a high regenerative capacity, there is a good chance of a full recovery after infection with Corona.

Late effects of Corona: Fatigue/exhaustion

As a late consequence of an infection with the coronavirus, many people suffer from persistent tiredness and exhaustion ( fatigue ). This was also the result of a study from Wuhan, China, published in January 2021 in the journal The Lancet. According to the survey, more than half (63 per cent) of recovered COVID-19 patients suffered from fatigue six months after infection. All study participants had to be treated in hospital because of a severe course. As a rule, fatigue improves within one to three months after overcoming the coronavirus infection.

In rare cases, fatigue can also indicate myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Those affected by this severe condition struggle with a crippling exhaustion that does not improve even with sleep and rest. On the contrary, people lack the energy to carry out everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth or making coffee. In ME/CFS, other symptoms can occur, such as blurred vision or worsening symptoms after exertion (post-exertional malaise).

Corona: neurological late effects possible

A corona infection can result in a variety of neurological disorders. Some also only appear as a late consequence after surviving COVID-19 disease.

In addition to the disturbance of the sense of smell and taste, these include:

  • inflammation of the brain
  • dysfunctions in the brain
  • nerve damage
  • strokes

About strokes, a connection has now been established between the severity of the disease and the risk of suffering a stroke in the first six months after the disease. For those affected who had to be treated in hospital as part of the COVID-19 infection, the risk was, on average, twice as high as for people treated on an outpatient basis.

Memory loss as a late neurological consequence of Corona

The brain performance of people with COVID-19 can also be impaired as a result of the infection. This results from an English study from July 2021 with over 84,000 participants. In some people infected with coronavirus, the researchers even found a drop in IQ by seven points – converted, and the brain aged by around ten years due to the infection. This can manifest itself, for example, in the form of memory and word-finding disorders or concentration difficulties. An umbrella term for this clouding of consciousness is the so-called “brain fog”.

Vascular inflammations are late effects of Corona.

Another late consequence of Corona can be vascular inflammation: Because the immune system attacks the coronavirus, it can also mistakenly hit the body’s cells and structures. Since the virus is transported through the body via the bloodstream, the immune response can damage the vessels – primarily causing inflammation. This disrupts the blood flow to the organs and tissues, which can manifest itself, for example, in the form of heart problems. Cardiac palpitations, chest pain, poor exercise tolerance and shortness of breath can indicate damage to the heart due to coronavirus infection.

Kawasaki syndrome in children due to coronavirus?

According to some case reports, an inflammatory vascular disease similar to Kawasaki syndrome developed in children after infection with the coronavirus. A primary symptom of these inflammatory reactions in the vessels is a fever over 40 °C that lasts days.

Psychological aftereffects of Corona

Even if they have survived the coronavirus infection well and have recovered, some people suffer from psychological problems afterwards. These include anxiety disorders, psychosis and depression. This was also found in a study from Wuhan published in the journal The Lancet in January 2021: Six months after recovery, 23 per cent of the 1,733 people examined with a severe course of COVID-19 suffered from depression and anxiety disorders and 26 per cent from sleep disorders.

The regulations introduced at times to contain the coronavirus, such as social distancing and contact restrictions, also increased these psychological complaints.

Headaches and body aches after COVID-19

An analysis of various studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19 showed that around 44 per cent of the participants experienced persistent headaches after a corona infection. The headaches made themselves feel like migraines or in the form of tension headaches.

About 19 per cent reported pain in muscles and joints, and nerve pain also occurred less frequently.




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