“Long colds” are a thing – just like long COVID, suggests a new study.
People may experience long-term symptoms for several weeks or more – or ‘long colds’ – after acute respiratory infections that test negative for COVID-19, say scientists.
Some of the most common symptoms of the ‘long cold’ included coughing, stomach pain, and diarrhea more than four weeks after initial infection, according to the research team from Queen Mary University of London.
While the severity of an illness appears to be a key driver of the risk of long-term symptoms, they say more research is being conducted to establish why some people suffer extended symptoms while others don’t.
The findings, published in The Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine, suggest that there may be long-lasting health impacts following non-COVID acute respiratory infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia, that are currently going unrecognized.
However, the researchers do not yet have evidence suggesting that the symptoms have the same severity or duration as long COVID.
Study lead author Giulia Vivaldi said: “Our findings shine a light not only on the impact of long COVID on people’s lives but also other respiratory infections.
“A lack of awareness – or even the lack of a common term – prevents both reporting and diagnosis of these conditions.
“As research into long COVID continues, we need to take the opportunity to investigate and consider the lasting effects of other acute respiratory infections.
“These ‘long’ infections are so difficult to diagnose and treat primarily because of a lack of diagnostic tests and there being so many possible symptoms.
“There have been more than 200 investigated for long COVID alone.”
The research compared the prevalence and severity of long-term symptoms after a bout of COVID-19 with a bout of another acute respiratory infection that tested negative for COVID.
Those recovering from COVID-19 were more likely to experience light-headedness or dizziness plus problems with taste and smell compared to those who had a non-COVID respiratory infection.
While long COVID is now a recognized condition, there have been few studies comparing long-term symptoms following SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection with other respiratory infections.
The study is the latest output from COVIDENCE UK, Queen Mary University of London’s national study of COVID-19, launched in 2020 and still in follow-up, with more than 19,000 participants enrolled.
The latest research analyzed data from more than 10,000 UK adults, with responses collected via questionnaires and statistical analysis conducted to identify symptom clusters.
Professor Adrian Martineau, Chief Investigator of COVIDENCE UK, said: “Our findings may chime with the experience of people who have struggled with prolonged symptoms after having a respiratory infection despite testing negative for COVID-19 on a nose or throat swab.”
He added: “Ongoing research into the long-term effects of COVID-19 and other acute respiratory infections is important because it can help us to get to the root of why some people experience more prolonged symptoms than others.
“Ultimately this could help us to identify the most appropriate form of treatment and care for affected people.”
Victoria King, of Barts Charity which funded the research, said: “These findings highlight not only the long-term symptoms experienced by people after COVID infection, but by people after other acute respiratory infections as well.
“As we learn more about long COVID symptoms and their possible treatments, studies like this help to build greater awareness around other prolonged respiratory infections that may be going unrecognised.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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