‘Long cold’ an unrecognised problem, study finds

The recognition of “long COVID” as a condition may have highlighted the problem of the “long cold”, according to a British research project.

Researchers at Queen Mary University, London, say they have documented for the first time the long-running symptoms that patients may experience for weeks after suffering an acute respiratory infection.

They identified the “long cold” when they set out to compare the experience of COVID patients with those who have suffered other acute respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and pneumonia.

Patients suffered symptoms such as coughing, diarrhoea and stomach pain for four weeks or more after these infections, they found.

The findings were being reported in EclinicalMedicine today.

Researchers analysed reports from more than 10,000 patients taking part in the university’s long-term study of COVID, which is backed by the Barts Charity.

They found that patients with long COVID were more likely to report problems of dizziness and with taste and smell than the other patients.

Researcher Professor Adrian Martineau, Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London, 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.

“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.”

Long-term symptom profiles after COVID-19 vs other acute respiratory infections: a population-based observational study. Vivaldi et al. EclinicalMedicine 6 October 2023

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