Many long Covid patients are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) more than a year after their original infection, a new study suggests.
The condition, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME, can cause fever, aching and prolonged tiredness and depression.
Some long Covid patients are having the same kind of difficulties breathing as people with asthma, the study found.
These symptoms are often being experienced together with CFS/ME – while some patients are even suffering additional symptoms, according to the research.
A study of Covid patients still suffering symptoms three to 15 months after infection found 46 per cent met the criteria for ME/CFS.
Meanwhile, 88 per cent exhibited abnormal breathing patterns referred to as dysfunctional breathing – which is most commonly seen in asthmatic patients and is defined as rapid, shallow breathing.
Professor Donna M Mancini, from Mount Sinai hospital in New York, said: “Many of these patients reported shortness of breath. They experienced several abnormalities including reduced exercise capacity, excessive ventilatory response and abnormal breathing patterns which would impact their normal daily life activities.
“These findings suggest that in a subgroup of long haulers, hyperventilation and/or dysfunctional breathing may underlie their symptoms. This is important as these abnormalities may be addressed with breathing exercises or ‘retraining’.”
The study also found evidence of “circulatory impairment” in 58 per cent of the patients to peak exercise performance, often due to cardiac dysfunction, or heart failure.
Patients in the study had pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, chest CT scans and echocardiograms.
They were also assessed for ME/CFS. They were asked to estimate how much in the previous six months had fatigue reduced their activity at work, in their personal life and/or in school; and how often they had experienced sore throat, tender lymph nodes, headache, muscle aches, joint stiffness, unrefreshing sleep, difficulty concentrating or worsening of symptoms after mild exertion.
The study is published in the journal JACC: Heart Failure.
It comes after i revealed this month that only 5,000 people a month are being referred to specialist long Covid clinics despite more than a million people having the condition – and a third of those are having to wait at least 15 weeks for their first appointment, according to NHS figures.
In the past year the NHS has set up 90 specialist long Covid clinics in England to assess and diagnose people who visit their GPs with symptoms of the condition.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates there are 1.2 million people in the UK with long Covid, meaning they have had symptoms for 12 weeks or more.
But only 4,846 to 5,182 patients a month were referred to the clinics from July to September this year, the first period for which figures are available.
Of those patients who are referred, 33 per cent are having to wait at least 15 weeks to be seen for their first assessment – with another 15 per cent waiting for 10 to 14 weeks, the figures show.Internet Explorer Channel Network