People with long Covid are likely to experience prolonged illness in one of three ways, according to new research.
Analysis of the ZOE Health Study – which accumulated data from people showing symptoms of Covid for longer than 84 days – found sufferers tended to experience long Covid in one of three ways.
The largest group experienced a cluster of neurological symptoms such as fatigue, brain-fog and headache. This ‘type’ of long Covid was most common in those infected by the Alpha and Delta variants.
The second group experienced respiratory symptoms including chest pain and severe shortness of breath – and this was most commonly associated with the period when most of the population was unvaccinated.
The third group experienced a diverse range of symptoms including heart palpitations, muscle aches and pain, and changes in skin and hair.
Researchers from King’s College London (KCL) analysed data of 1,459 individuals who had experienced ongoing Covid symptoms for more than 12 weeks.
The findings, which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, add to emerging evidence that long Covid is not a one-size-fits-all illness and those diagnosed with it should have personalised treatment and care.
Clinical lead author Dr Claire Steves, from KCL, said: “These data show clearly that post Covid syndrome is not just one condition, but appears to have several subtypes.”
The research is important as understanding the root causes of these different ‘types’ of long Covid may help in finding better treatment strategies.
“Moreover these data emphasise the need for long Covid services to incorporate a personalised approach sensitive to the issues of each individual,” said Dr Steves.
A separate study from the University of Birmingham identified that long Covid symptoms tended to be grouped into three main categories: respiratory symptoms; mental health and cognitive problems; and then a broader range of symptoms.
According to the NHS, some common long covid symptoms include: extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, brain fog, insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, pins and needles, joint pain, depression and anxiety, tinnitus, and rashes.