November 27, 2021

The painful marathon of patients with a long Covid

More than a year and a half after the start of the pandemic, the long Covid remains a mystery. Yet accustomed to observing post-infectious symptoms, the doctors were baffled by the arrival, from May 2020, of many patients still presenting a vast clinical picture several weeks after being infected with SARS-CoV-2: fatigue , dyspnea, pain, anosmia, ageusia …

If the specialists see it a little clearer on the contours of the long Covid and note that “The vast majority of patients are improving, many points remain unanswered”, indicates Professor Dominique Salmon-Ceron, infectious disease specialist at Hôtel-Dieu (Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, AP-HP). She set up one of the first consultations devoted to post-Covid-19, in May 2020 – thus breaking with the position of some doctors who believe that these are psychosomatic manifestations. Patients are still denouncing the fact of not always being taken seriously by the medical profession.

After attending consultations in March, return to Hôtel-Dieu at the beginning of September to assess the progress of patients – including for some, the course looks like a marathon.

A doctor in the corridor of the Hôtel-Dieu, in Paris, on September 6, 2021.

So Salomé, who had come that day for a consultation, complained of a sort of “Brain fog”, ten months after contracting Covid-19, which then resulted in fatigue, headache, anosmia and ageusia, respiratory discomfort. a PET scan, a functional imaging test that measures glucose consumption in the brain, showed moderate hypometabolism in the brainstem, hippocampus, cerebellum, and olfactory bulb.

For this 21-year-old student, in the third year of psychomotricity, “Fatigue is less present, but it remains sustained”. However, Salomé continued her lessons. Ageusia persists, even if the olfaction has returned a little. This summer, after a month of June devoted to its exams, she sometimes slept up to fifteen hours at a stretch. If the respiratory physiotherapist helped her a lot – she resumed running – she still feels this “Chest tightness” and feels out of breath going up three floors.

Mostly women

How many infected people are in the same situation? Difficult to know the exact prevalence of long Covid. “To answer it, he large-scale studies are needed among symptomatic and asymptomatic people in the general population, indicates Dominique Salmon-Ceron. Studies show that about 25% to 30% of patients still have symptoms one to two months after the initial diagnosis and 10% to 15% after six to eight months. “

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