11:21 a.m., July 14, 2020
With Jenny Judge the illness started in March with fever, cough, headache and shortness of breath. But after these typical symptoms, the London psychiatrist Covid-19 had not been through. New waves kept coming in: Rapid heart rate, rash, acoustic hallucinations and the so-called covid toes.
Now digestive problems
“There are digestive problems right now,” says the 48-year-old – on day 111 of her suffering odyssey. Almost 13 million corona infections have been counted worldwide, half of the sick are considered cured. However, some of the sufferers still suffer from the infection after weeks or even months.
According to a study of 143 patients treated in hospital in Italy, 87 percent of them still suffered 60 days after the onset of the disease at least one symptom. The most common are fatigue and shortness of breath, according to the study published in the journal “Jama Network”.
For another study by the U.S. health agency, 350 people were questioned two to three weeks after the positive corona test. 60 percent of the patients treated in the hospital stated that they were not yet healthy. A third of those who cured themselves at home did not feel healthy.
Patients encounter incomprehension
Many suffer not only from physical complaints, but also from the lack of understanding with which doctors and employers often deal with the persistent symptoms. “These people really feel let down”says Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College in London and initiator of a large-scale study of the symptoms of Covid-19.
“Many suffer from debilitating fatigue,” he says. Spector identified 19 different disease symptoms. Up to ten percent of the patients still showed signs of the disease 30 days after the outbreak. The doctor considers Covid-19 to be “even stranger” than rare autoimmune diseases such as lupus, which also manifest themselves in very different ways.
Support groups founded
Long-term corona patients have formed self-help groups in the online networks. Many report a lack of understanding by doctors, especially if they fell ill at the beginning of the epidemic and could not be tested. They cannot prove that their symptoms have anything to do with the corona virus.
Jenny Judge, although a medical doctor herself, encountered skepticism. A doctor suspected their fears and not the corona infection as the cause of their cardiac arrhythmias.
The more patients report long-lasting symptoms, the easier it is for those affected to find a hearing. Paul Garner, professor of infectious diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, writes on his blog frustrated that the infection is still not over after three months – although there is always talk of two weeks of illness.
“I thought I was going to die …”
Garner had a terrible headache and shortness of breath, his limbs tingled and once he thought he was going to lose consciousness: “I thought I was going to die, it was scary,” he writes. The worst thing was the confusion and mood swings, says the 64-year-old, who has been healthy so far. Well, after almost a hundred days, he’s starting to feel better.
It is still unclear whether the virus itself causes such protracted course of the disease or whether it is an excessive immune response by the body to the pathogen. According to Spector, traces of the virus are still detectable in some long-term patients. It is unclear whether they are still contagious.