Long Covid: Two thirds of patients develop dysautonomia – symptoms to spot

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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At the same rate patient numbers have grown so too has a scientific understanding of the disease including what conditions it causes.

In a new study, scientists have found over two thirds of patients go on to develop dysautonomia in the aftermath of long Covid.

Dysautonomia is an umbrella term for several conditions that interact with the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

The NHS describes the system as the part of the body that “controls involuntary actions like your heart rate, body temperature, digestion, perspiration, and the widening and narrowing of your blood vessels”.

“Autonomic disorders can occur alone, or they can be caused by another underlying condition, like Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism, or diabetes,” adds the NHS.

According to the results of a study conducted by Stanford University COVID-19 is a strong candidate to be added to this list.

During the study 67 percent of Covid patients went on to develop dysautonomia.

Stanford University’s Professor Lauren Stiles said this equated to millions of patients worldwide.

Stanford University’s Dr Mitchell Miglis said of the study: “Identifying dysautonomia is long Covid is important because the autonomic nervous system plays a critical role in regulating immune function, inflammation, coagulation pathways, fatigue, exercise intolerance, cognition, and other factors that appear to play a role in Covid.”

For this reason, the autonomic nervous system will play an essential role in helping scientists to understand how to treat long Covid in the future.

Symptoms of dysautonomia include:
• Balance problems
• Noise and light sensitivity
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Dizziness
• Swings in body temperature
• Persistent tiredness
• Blurred vision
• Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Heart palpitations
• Brain fog
• Mood, heart rate, and blood pressure swings
• Fainting
• Sleep issues
• Migraines
• Frequent urination
• Variations in sweating.

This isn’t the first time Covid has been linked to the development of conditions both physical and psychological.

Long Covid has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

A study published in the journal Nature found even a mild form of COVID-19 increased a person’s risk of heart failure by 72 percent and their risk of heart attack by 63 percent.

Furthermore, the study also discovered a person’s risk of stroke rose by 52 percent.

The cost isn’t just individual, psychological, or physical, it’s also financial.

Recent analysis predicts long Covid, and other illnesses could cost the UK economy eight billion pounds a year.

This is in part due to staff absences arising out of health inequalities described as “deep” by experts.

More information about long Covid is available on the NHS website.

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