FOR a lot of long Covid sufferers, it can feel like a long old time since they felt like themselves.
Now researchers reckon people with the condition fit into one of three categories – which could offer hope for better, more personalised treatments.
Respiratory symptoms were most common when the population was unvaccinated.
It’s estimated that around two million people in the UK are currently living with long Covid.
They are dealing with a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from sexual dysfunction to hallucinations and even hair loss.
Experts from King’s College London (KCL) have now discovered that people tend to fall into one of three separate groups.
Researchers examined data from 1,459 people with long Covid – defined by the study authors as suffering symptoms for at least 84 days, a total of 12 weeks, after infection.
1. Neurological symptoms
The most common symptoms of long Covid fell under what researchers referred to a “neurological” symptoms.
People in this category were plagued by ongoing fatigue, brain-fog and headaches.
This was the most common symptom group reported among those who contracted alpha and delta variants of Covid.
2. Respiratory symptoms
The second group experienced respiratory symptoms including chest pain and severe shortness of breath, which the researchers said could point to lung damage.
Respiratory symptoms were most common for those who caught Covid while the population was unvaccinated.
3. Varied symptoms
In the third group, people experienced a diverse range of symptoms including heart palpitations, muscle aches and pains, and changes in their skin and hair.
Clinical lead author Dr Claire Steves, from KCL, said the findings showed that long Covid is not just one condition.
She said: “Understanding the root causes of these subtypes may help in finding treatment strategies.
“Moreover these data emphasise the need for long Covid services to incorporate a personalised approach sensitive to the issues of each individual.”
First author Dr Liane Canas, from KCL, added: “These insights could aid in the development of personalised diagnosis and treatment for these individuals.”
Last week, researchers suggested there may be an additional 48 lesser-known side effects which long Covid patients can experience.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that one in 20 people who catch Covid may permanently lose their sense of smell or taste.