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Prepare patients for "long COVID," doctors told

Friday December 18th 2020

Doctors should prepare COVID-19 patients for long-term effects, according to guidance published today.

Long-term effects include shortness of breath, fatigue and problems of the heart, lungs, kidneys, muscles, joints and nervous system, according to the guidance.

It has been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Royal College of GPs and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.

It sets out how to assess and investigate patients and when to refer together with planning and management of care.

College chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “It’s been a rapid but rigorous process, during which we have listened to both clinicians and patients who have had ongoing symptoms as a result of COVID-19 to ensure the guidance is as holistic and comprehensive as possible given what we know.

“COVID-19 is a new virus, and long-COVID a new illness, so this is just a starting point and as more research is done and new evidence emerges, these guidelines will be updated.”

Scottish director of evidence of healthcare improvement Safia Qureshi said: “We appreciate how difficult it must be for people to face so much uncertainty with this condition and the significant impact it can have on people’s quality of life. We will update the guideline as new evidence emerges to ensure that patients and the clinical community can access the most up-to-date information on best practice and treatment options.

“We have also produced a version of this guideline for patients, to explain about the care they can expect to receive. We would encourage the clinical community to read the guideline and for the research community to embrace the research recommendations, which highlight areas where we believe further work will make a significant difference in our understanding of the condition.”

Paul Chrisp, from NICE, said: “This guideline highlights the importance of providing people with good information after they’ve had acute COVID-19 so they know what to expect and when they should ask for more medical advice. This could help to relieve anxiety when people do not recover in the way they expect, particularly because symptoms can fluctuate and there are so many different symptoms reported.”

* A study reported by Manchester University today highlights severe neurological complications faced by a small number of previously healthy children after infection with the disease.

Researchers found cases of 38 children in eight countries. Two developed paralysis after the spinal cord was destroyed, according to the report in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health. Another child has been on a ventilator for six months while 11 children developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

The study found seven children with abnormal brain and spine images and symptoms – but they could not be categorised, according to the report.

Researcher Professor Stavros Stivaros said: “It’s clear from the number of children we have seen with COVID-19, that neurological complications are rare. But it is importance to recognise that COVID-19 could be a possible diagnosis, even if these children are not displaying the virus’s classic respiratory symptoms.”

[Guidance]

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | Flu & Viruses | NHS | UK News

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