After the Covid infection, if people continue to show symptoms such as coughing, stomach pain and diarrhoea for more than 4 weeks, they are said to have ‘long cold.’ While the severity of Covid-19 appears to be an important driver of the risk of long-term symptoms, researchers have been looking into why some people experience the symptoms for longer periods. Now, a new study shows that people may suffer long colds even after non-covid acute respiratory infections.
The findings, led by researchers from Queen Mary University of London, suggest that long-lasting health impacts after non-Covid acute respiratory infections such as colds, influenza, or pneumonia, are currently unrecognised. In a press statement by the university, the researchers said that these symptoms could have the same severity or duration as long Covid.
For the study, the researchers compared the prevalence and severity of long-term symptoms after an episode of Covid and an episode of another acute respiratory infection that tested negative for Covid. The findings, published in The Lancet's EClinicalMedicine, found that people recovering from Covid were more likely to experience light-headedness and problems with taste and smell.
“Our findings shine a light not only on the impact of long Covid on people’s lives but also on other respiratory infections. A lack of awareness—or even the lack of a common term —prevents both reporting and diagnosis of these conditions,” said lead author Giulia Vivaldi in the statement. While research on Covid continues, there should also be investigations on the lasting effects of other acute respiratory infections, he added.
The ‘long colds’ are so difficult to diagnose as they lack diagnostic tests and there could be many possible symptoms, the researchers said in the statement. There might be more similarities in long colds and long covid symptoms that are yet to be recognised. Previously a 2022 study, published in JAMA Network Open, had suggested that long covid patients could experience many of the same negative effects on their physical, mental, and social well-being as those experienced by people who have non-covid illnesses, as reported by Science Daily.
Hence, further research into the long-term effects of acute respiratory infections is important because it can help understand why some people experience more prolonged symptoms than others as well as the correct treatment route.