The Link Between Long-Term Symptoms and Respiratory Infections: A Study by Queen Mary University of London

2023-10-07 16:04:00

Did you have a cold a few weeks ago… and you still have symptoms? It may be a “long cold”! Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London have, in fact, discovered that certain respiratory infections – colds, flu or pneumonia for example – could cause long-term symptoms, like long-term Covid.

Their study was published in the scientific journal eClinicalMedicineOctober 6, 2023.

Persistent symptoms do not only concern long Covid

To achieve this result, researchers asked more than 10,000 people to list the 16 most common symptoms of long Covid. Among these, there was fatigue, shortness of breath or even aches.

Then, they classified participants into three groups: those who had had Covid, those who had reported another acute respiratory infection (but tested negative for Covid), and volunteers who had reported no infection. Only participants infected more than four weeks earlier were retained.

Unsurprisingly, individuals who had been infected with Covid-19 had more symptoms than those who had not had an infection. But, more surprisingly, people with other respiratory infections – and which were not Covid-19 – were also more affected by these long-term symptoms than those who had not been ill.

Cold, flu, pneumonia: some patients have long-term symptoms

Thus, scientists believe that long-term symptoms can be due to Covid-19, but also to other respiratory infections such as colds, flu or pneumonia.

In detail, people who have had a cold have reported the following long-term effects: cough, stomach pain and diarrhea. “We observed significant differences in the symptoms reported in the two groups, people who recovered from Covid were more likely to suffer from dizziness as well as problems with taste and smell,” specifies Giulia Vivaldi, author of the study, in an article published in The Conversation.

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But, just like long Covid, scientists do not know the reasons why some people develop long colds and others do not.

“It is important to note that we have no evidence (to assert) that the symptoms of the long cold (are of) the same severity or the same duration as those of long covid, specifies Giulia Vivaldi. These results highlight not only the impact of long Covid on people’s lives, but also on other respiratory infections.”

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