The long underlying reasons for COVID are still elusive in new research: blueprints


Nancy Rose, on the right, hired COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to show long-term symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue as her mother, Amy Russell, left the kitchen at her home on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, in Port. Jefferson, NY Researchers are trying to understand what causes these long symptoms of COVID.

John Minchillo / AP


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John Minchillo / AP


Nancy Rose, on the right, hired COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to show long-term symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue as her mother, Amy Russell, left the kitchen at her home on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, in Port. Jefferson, NY Researchers are trying to understand what causes these long symptoms of COVID.

John Minchillo / AP

Shortly after COVID-19 the pandemic started, A team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health began placing hundreds of people under a microscope to try to find clues to find out if some patients may have persistent health problems.

Scientists knew from previous outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Ebola, that some patients would probably struggle with symptoms that could be debilitating.

Doctors combed out medical records of volunteers looking for anything that could later lead to persistent health problems that would later be called long-term COVID, such as fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath. The researchers performed more than 130 tests on the subjects, indicating that their vital organs were damaged, that the virus was still hidden in the body, or that the immune system was malfunctioning.

On Tuesday, scientists released the first results of their research, and released the first results of an ongoing study. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared 189 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and compared with 120 similar non-diseased patients.

The results are disappointing and provocative.

“An extensive medical evaluation did not reveal the cause of these persistent symptoms in most cases,” Dr. Michael Sneller, a specialist in infectious diseases, who led the study, told NPR.

“We couldn’t find any evidence that the virus survives or hides in the body. We also didn’t find any evidence that the immune system was overactive or malfunctioning in a way that would cause damage to major organs in the body,” says Sneller. .

The researchers, however, found that women and those with anxiety were more likely to end up with long-term COVID. But researchers point out that their findings do not mean that patients’ problems are psychological.

“Clearly I don’t want to send a message that this isn’t all real. And in people’s minds. And go home and stop worrying about it. That’s not the message,” Snell says.

Snell says he hopes his findings will help doctors better treat long-term COVID patients. For example, identifying what it is no wrongly, doctors can avoid unnecessary, potentially harmful treatments. Some doctors are prescribing inhalers that can cause side effects to people with normal lung function, he says.

Instead, Snell says his research may encourage more physicians to be involved in interventions that may be helpful, such as physical and cognitive behavioral therapy.

But some are concerned that the findings may send the wrong message. It is feared that doctors will exclude patients, especially when nothing appears in the standard tests.

“We know that invisible diseases are often psychologized,” says David Putrino, a professor of medical rehabilitation who studies and treats long-term COVID patients at Mount Sinai Medicine in New York City.

“We know that most people with a chronic infection-related illness are diagnosed with constant anxiety first. Regular cookie-cut tests won’t show anything in your long-term COVID patients. We need to look deeper,” Putrino said.

For example, Putrino says other researchers have found evidence of abnormal levels of immune system modulators in patients with long-term COVID. Others have found evidence of chronic inflammation, which is a sign of an overactive immune system.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Aluko Hope of Oregon University of Health & Science called the results a “valuable contribution” to understanding long-term COVID by providing a baseline of patient health in the early stages of the disease.

But he noted that the researchers did not focus enough on understanding the fatigue that many COVID-19 long-term patients experience when they try to exercise. or else effort.

“As we emerge from the hell of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to focus on the rigorous examination and surveillance of COVID-19 survivors. Hopek.

“While we are gathering evidence, our patients deserve personalized care pathways that recognize many of the biopsychosocial factors involved in disease recovery,” he says.

Snell agrees. He continues to study the first patients in his research and hundreds of others, including performing additional tests.

“We continue the analysis looking for autoimmunity or any other evidence,” says Snell. “This paper is not the end, it’s just the beginning.”

At the same time, a new NIH study aims to follow about 20,000 COVID-19 patients by conducting a detailed study of their health and comparing them with people who do not get COVID-19.

Finally, many experts believe that research will show that long-term COVID is likely to have several causes, depending on the severity of the initial disease and the predisposing characteristics of the individual.

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