As we near the end of 2022, almost two years since the initial wave of COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, we are now facing another health crisis: long COVID.
We wanted to break down what we currently know about long COVID, and the solution we have created to help manage it, so we spoke to Professor of Critical Care at the University of Edinburgh Tim Walsh, and interim Chief Executive of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS), Allan Cowie. (Find the full webinar on our YouTube).
The most recent information from the Office for National Statistics suggests that around 2.3 million people across the United Kingdom are experiencing symptoms of long COVID, having been previously infected by COVID-19. A recent article in the Scotsman put these numbers into perspective: “there are more Scots with long COVID than there are residents of Aberdeen”. While the condition affects people in a range of ways, around 1.4 million people report that it has had a major impact on their day-to-day life, and for some long COVID has had a devastating effect.
Long COVID is still a relatively unknown condition, however it is not unusual for chronic illnesses to follow major outbreaks of virus. For example, similar conditions followed the Polio and Sars outbreaks. Typically, these conditions have higher infection rates among women than men; sex, age and health background are all determinants in the likelihood of suffering from long COVID, although it can affect anyone. Amongst the most common symptoms of long COVID are fatigue, breathlessness, muscle pain, and loss of taste and smell. A comprehensive list of other symptoms can be found here.
Read about the experiences of people living with Long COVID below:
“I suffer from fatigue and muscle and chest pain. Brain fog has been a real issue too. I was very active before, and it’s been really hard to adjust and scale back to doing almost nothing”.
“My main symptoms are still fatigue and muscle and join pain. I also have very severe brain fog and my short-term memory and concentration levels have been affected, I can also feel depressed and anxious, and am quick to anger. I wasn’t like that at all before covid”.
There is currently no national solution, either within Scotland or the UK, to address long COVID; likely as a result of a lack of understanding around it. Here at Pogo Digital Healthcare, along with CHSS and NHS Lothian, we have developed a long COVID management app named MyTailoredTalks. The app allows people living with long COVID to register and rate their symptoms, receive advice, and access support via the CHSS advice line.
So far, we have received positive feedback from the patients who have been onboarded to the pilot programme of MyTailoredTalks, and we are using the results of the pilot to develop and improve the app further. It is crucial that those living with long COVID have a safety net; condition management is proving to be the most effective solution for this. Working together with our partners, our app allows GPs to refer patients to the MyTailoredTalks, where they can receive advice and treatment that works best for them. Managing long COVID isn’t just about making patients feel better physically; it is also making sure that they feel listened to and understood, and that they know there is support out there.
Read some of our patient testimonials below:
“I filled out an online survey that asked what kind of support or help I needed, so I was able to request telephone support. That was so helpful for me”.
“I found it so helpful and really appreciated the help I got. It felt like there was someone on the end of the phone who was listening. I don’t know a lot of people with long COVID, so I found the service so good for practical help”.
Find more information about MyTailoredTalks here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss MyTailoredTalks or our recent pilot, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org