What is long Covid or post Covid syndrome?
While most people recover quickly from Covid-19 and get better within four weeks, some people may have ongoing symptoms that can last longer, or new health issues which can develop and change over time. This is sometimes referred to as long Covid or post Covid syndrome. The type of symptoms, their severity and how long they last can vary from person to person.
As this is a relatively new condition, understanding is developing all the time and, although it is difficult to predict exactly how long symptoms may last, the reassuring evidence is that symptoms improve over time in the majority of cases. Work is underway in NHS Forth Valley to develop a range of services and support for people affected by long Covid which reflects the latest national guidance and best practice (including the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) guidance) as well as feedback from local people affected by long Covid.
Symptoms of long Covid
There is currently no cure for long Covid but it is recognised that managing the symptoms people experience can improve their overall health and quality of life. Most people with long Covid will experience one or more of the common symptoms listed below.
- Fatigue – feeling tired with less energy to carry out day-to-day activities
- Breathlessness and/or cough
- Loss of smell and taste
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Problems with memory and/or concentration – sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog.’
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems with speech
- Digestive and dietary changes – including abdominal pain, feeling sick, diarrhoea weight loss or reduced appetite.
Further information on signs and symptoms of long Covid can be found on NHS Inform.
Local services and support
Work has been undertaken to develop additional local services and support to meet the needs of local people experiencing symptoms of long Covid, recognising the complexity and range of symptoms involved and the different needs and experiences of each individual person affected.
The new Forth Valley long Covid service offers advice on managing and improving the symptoms of the condition for young people aged 16 and over and adults who have been diagnosed by their GP as having long Covid.
It provides a wide range of practical and professional advice and support to help people manage their symptoms, increase their quality of life and improve their overall health and wellbeing. This includes information and advice and referral to existing services and support. People with more severe symptoms which are not improving following initial self-management support can also access more targeted, specialist support by attending a group programme or more focused 1:1 sessions.
People can be referred to the Forth Valley long Covid service by a range of healthcare professionals (such as a GP, physiotherapist or occupational therapist). Once referred, you will be asked to complete some questionnaires to help staff understand your symptoms and experience better so they can tailor the programme of support to meet your individual needs.
The service is being developed with input from a local support group for people with experience of long Covid. The group was set up by two local women (Suzanne Grant and Noreen Walton) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What we do
- Works closely with a wide range of healthcare staff, service users and support groups to establish strong connections and networks across Forth Valley
- Assesses local referrals to the Long Covid service
- Provides advice on medication
- Delivers training, support and advice on how to manage a wide range of common symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, stress and pain as well as improving the range of daily activities which can be undertaken.
- Can refer to other healthcare professionals, if required, such as occupational therapy, dieticians, pain services and other specialist hospital-based services and support
- Develops plans to further improve local services and support for people with Long Covid
- Assesses your strength, balance, mobility, movement and breathing and the range of daily activities you are able to undertake to develop a programme of advice, treatment, exercises and support.
- Can refer to other healthcare professionals, if required, including occupational therapists, dieticians, pain management staff and other hospital based specialists.
- Can help you understand how the way you think and the things you do can affect how you feel.
- They specialist psychologist will help you manage your Long Covid symptoms, including the impact these have on your emotions and mental health, to make practical and helpful changes which will improve your health and wellbeing.
- This can include building confidence, reducing anxiety, managing difficult emotions, improving address low mood, depression and problems sleeping.
- Additional support can also be provided by the Cossette service for people who are experiencing ongoing psychological or mental health issues following hospital treatment for Covid-19, including patients who required treatment in ICU.
Further information and advice
Long Covid free telephone advice line
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) has been funded by the Scottish Government to provide expert advice on how to manage long Covid symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness. The advice line is staffed by healthcare professionals who can offer practical support for anyone struggling with the long-term effects of Covid-19.
You can contact the advice line:
Feedback from people living with long Covid
The University of Stirling has undertaken extensive research on people’s experience of long Covid and created a range of resources. These include videos, audio clips and written extracts from interviews with people living with long Covid and covers topics like how to manage the impact on your family, work, social life and finances.
Managing Extreme Fatigue
The Royal College of Occupational Therapy has produced tips and guides on managing extreme fatigue and conserving energy
Long Covid Scotland
Details of support groups, charities, and other resources for people with long Covid can be found on long Covid Scotland’s website.