Earlier this week in The Irish Times, Dr Muiris Houston wrote about the need to focus on those who get Sars-CoV-2 and suffer significant symptoms for 2-10 weeks post infection.
We know about “long Covid”, where people continue to suffer the effects of Covid-19 long after the initial illness. Though there is no definitive time frame for “long Covid”, in a recent, large study, three to five months was the measurement used.
So Dr Houston argued that Covid-19 symptoms during the 2-10 week time frame post infection should be labelled as “mid Covid”, and that medical professionals need to focus on the apparently considerable number of people who continue to suffer during this period.
We asked readers to tell us about their experience with “mid Covid”.
Here are a selection of the responses:
‘It was a rollercoaster of aches, complaints and emotions’
“I got covid in late September last year and was not well for three months. I was deemed not fit for work in this period and I had a liquorice assortment of complaints that varied from day to day — from worrying chest pain, no taste or smell, tingling pins and needles in my finger tips and feet, lots of teeth trouble and dental work, to low energy and mood with little motivation to move. It was a rollercoaster of aches, complaints and emotions.”
‘It took the guts of six weeks to fully recover’
“I had Covid with the symptoms lasting up to six weeks. I’m a nurse working in a boarding school. I suffered with exhaustion, sore throat and chronic headache which lasted until day seven. On day 10, I developed shortness of breath — I have no previous history of any respiratory issues — and was placed on steroids and antibiotics by my GP for 10 days. I never developed a cough, but had a very tight and heavy chest. It took the guts of six weeks to fully recover. I tested positive until day 15. I have been vaccinated and boosted.”
‘I feel guilty that I struggle to exercise’
“I’m a 19-year-old male. I felt healthy and had no major health issues pre-Covid. I tested positive for Covid around April 15th and suffered in bed for approximately a week with the usual symptoms — fever, cough etc. My cough lingered for many weeks after the infection and is still present mildly as of August. I am also aware that my cough would be almost non-existent for periods and then flare up again over the week. Since my Covid infection I have struggled with fatigue. I used to run regularly and go to the gym 2-3 times per week. I attempt to partake in these activities now but have little energy to do so. I never struggled with this pre-Covid and looked forward to workouts, etc. I have also suffered with muscle aches in my back, despite minimal physical activity. I regularly woke up with tingling and numbness in my arms in the weeks shortly after the infection. My room also appeared as if someone had put a purple coloured filter over my eyes briefly after first waking up in the morning. This has since subsided and was only present briefly, for a week or two after contracting Covid. Overall I tend to feel down as I lack the energy levels I was used to pre-Covid, and I feel guilty that I struggle to exercise.”
‘I have a persistent headache and general lethargy’
“I have a persistent headache and general lethargy with the odd day of feeling normal — like I used to be. My hair has thinned hugely, which is upsetting for a woman in my 30s. This has been going on for two months.”
‘The tiredness lasted about eight weeks’
“I got Covid last March. I don’t remember three days of that time, yet remember hallucinating and vomiting. It was seven days before I felt semi-human, but at that, I was still floored. The body aches/heavy limbs feeling and tiredness were chronic. The tiredness felt like first-trimester tiredness. The aches/heavy limbs cleared after a few weeks, but the tiredness lasted about eight weeks. I also had a permanent headache for this time. The cold symptoms didn’t clear. I had a constant cough, sounded hoarse and permanent blocked/runny nose. I developed a sinus, upper respiratory and double ear infection mid-June for which I got antibiotics. They killed the infection, but I still wasn’t right. I have just completed two sessions of acupuncture and feel great relief so hoping this will be the end of it.”
‘Public guidance is sparse and, quite frankly, unhelpful’
“Seven weeks ago I was a fit and healthy 21-year-old who has just returned home from a study exchange. Today, my reality is very different. Crippling fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, sensitivity to light and severe insomnia are just some of my symptoms. No GP or hospital doctor can help me. Public guidance is sparse and, quite frankly, unhelpful. Furthermore, I have lost hope of treatment or a reasonable time frame for recovery. The scariest part is that even the scientists themselves seem to be left somewhat puzzled. Mid Covid is definitely a pandemic within a pandemic.”
‘Fatigue and brain fog’
“I got Covid in May and sometimes my symptoms return — sore throat, body aches, fatigue and brain fog. Fortunately, minimal respiratory issues.”
‘All of us [in the group] have had disruption of menstrual cycles post Covid’
“Speaking to a group of women yesterday (all Midwifery students, 22-52 years old) and all of us have had disruption of menstrual cycles post Covid. All had extended cycles, all with heavier than normal flow and associated with extreme fatigue and cramping not usually experienced. I’m finding that I can’t get through my day without having a sleep in the afternoon and have a constant dull headache. [It is] four weeks post infection.”
‘The mental health challenges have been the hardest’
“Seven weeks since my positive test, and today was the first day I’ve had where I’ve worked, managed intelligent outputs, exercised and (crucially!) feel generally positive throughout. The mental health challenges have been the hardest — and not having the energy to create dopamine through exercise has been particularly tricky.”
‘I had two secondary infections right after having Covid’
“I had two secondary infections right after having Covid in early April — firstly a respiratory infection, followed by tonsillitis — requiring two rounds of antibiotics and steroids. The compound effect of all three left me floored. Low energy, high resting heart rate, intermittent chest pains, and diminished appetite. I only felt fully recovered in June.”
‘I am a bit short of breath walking uphill ... and feel under-par’
“I am fully vaccinated and have had my booster. Up until recently I had never caught Covid. Then, three days after I had a colonoscopy in hospital, I started having cold-like symptoms. I did a rapid test at home on July 18th and it was positive. I isolated myself for seven days. On July 24th and 25th I had two negative tests. Since then, I am a bit short of breath walking uphill, have bouts of coughing a few times a day and feel under-par. I waited two weeks before doing a very slow jog of 4km yesterday. I felt I wasn’t getting enough O2. My chest feels a bit congested and sometimes I cough up some phlegm. I also occasionally have problems swallowing. If this continues till next week, I will try to see my GP.”
‘A level path feels like going uphill’
“My main symptom since having Covid is breathlessness. I walk 6-8 miles, six days a week, but now a level path feels like going uphill. I also feel dizzy sometimes, and tingling in my left hand.”
‘I have intermittent tingling skin sensations’
“I believe that I have mid Covid. I have shortness of breath, for which I am on inhalers, chest pain, muscle cramps and heavy legs. I also have intermittent tingling skin sensations. I had none of these symptoms prior to having Covid at the beginning of July.”
‘[I needed to] go to bed straight after work every day’
“I certainly had to deal with serious fatigue for at least two months after having Covid in March. That is, making it through the workday, but essentially needing to go to bed straight after work every day and also sleeping most of the day on Saturdays. A three-week holiday in June/July also helped, but now, just a couple of weeks later, I’ve been hit with a random non-Covid respiratory virus/the worst cold I’ve had for years. Almost as much time out sick from work as with Covid and the fatigue is back with a bang. None of it ever seemed to fit the descriptions of “long Covid”, but “mid Covid” could be right. I’ve heard a couple of times that in the months after Covid radical rest is very important. I’m not really sure what radical rest is, but it does feel like exactly what is needed.”