COVID was a very new experience for everyone in the medical profession and the impact that it has had in terms of long-term symptoms has yet to be established. We still know very little about what Long COVID patients are going through but one new study has identified that people who are suffering from this condition could potentially have a long list of ENT symptoms.
What is Long COVID?
It’s essentially the symptoms that persist after someone has been infected with coronavirus. There is still a lot that we don’t know about Long COVID but these symptoms seem to continue to show up for months, or longer. In some people they can come and go and you may suffer for a week or so and then be symptoms free for a month before struggling again.
What does the research say?
A study by University College London has found that as many as 200 symptoms have affected 10 organs throughout the bodies of those who are suffering from Long COVID. This could have an impact on any part of the body but we are increasingly seeing ear, nose and throat problems being reported. Another Italian study has identified that 10% will still have issues with taste and smell a month after they were first infected.
What ENT symptoms do you need to look out for?
Some of the issues that Long COVID sufferers are starting to identify include nasal congestion, a sore throat and problems with sense of smell. This may be completely losing sense of smell or experiencing a distorted or reduced sense of smell. For those who have had respiratory problems as part of their COVID-19 experience there may also be a cough or chest tightness to deal with. In most people, these symptoms do tend to go away after around four weeks but if they continue for longer it’s a good idea to seek medical help.
When do you need to get help?
If any of your symptoms persist for longer than four weeks then it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional. For example, for most people the loss of taste is something that will be experienced for a matter of weeks after having COVID-19. A month later it will have resolved itself in the large majority of people but if you’re still struggling then it’s a good idea to get help. If you have hearing problems - especially a sudden loss of hearing - then you may need to seek medical support sooner. Many treatments are available for this, including injecting steroids into the ears or a course of IV/oral steroids.
Long COVID is a condition that can have a big impact on quality of life and if you’re struggling - and have done so for a while - then it’s important to connect with a specialist. Especially if you’re experiencing ongoing ENT issues, such as hearing problems or a loss of taste or smell, it is often reassuring to see a professional to make sure nothing more serious is going on.