Coronavirus symptoms: The symptoms that may linger for weeks if not months

Coronavirus world-wide cases are approaching the five million mark and the total number of deaths has now exceeded 300,000. Despite dominating our lives for five or so months now, the virus still shocks and surprises. Why the virus causes markedly different reactions in people gets to the heart of this uncertainty.


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Evidence-based theories exist. One gathering steam is the cytokine storm.

A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body’s immune system.

In some people with COVID-19, the immune system releases immune messengers, called cytokines, into the bloodstream out of proportion to the threat or long after the virus is no longer a threat.

When this happens, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, potentially causing significant harm.

This may help to explain the difference between people that end up in intensive care and those who don’t but why symptoms wipe some people out and others are asymptomatic is still a mystery.

A recent account given by Paul Garner, a Professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, reflects just how persistent and acute symptoms can prove to be in some people.

After a seven-week ordeal, Professor Garner thought he was finally back on his feet.

“I felt remarkably well, almost high,” he said, writing in the BMJ.

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Then COVID-19 symptoms reared their ugly head.

“I was so wrong. After twelve hours, I was completely floored. I was more exhausted than ever and could not get out of bed for three days. The sweats came back. The tinnitus. The foggy head. The headaches,” said Prof Garner.

After recuperating from his bout of symptoms, Prof Garner decided to test the waters and go for a gentle walk.

“The next day, the COVID-19 fatigue was back with a vengeance, and I was in bed for two days.


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Paul’s story will be familiar to many who become struck down with COVID-19 symptoms.

In a survey by wellness group Body Politic of several hundred people who suffered prolonged virus symptoms in North America and Europe, 91 percent who had not yet recovered had experienced symptoms for an average of 40 days.

Not all of them had tested positive for the virus.

Is anything I can do to ease symptoms while at home?

According to the NHS, there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.

If you have a high temperature, it can help to:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable

“If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead,” says the health body.

To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey, notes the health site.

“But do not give honey to babies under 12 months,” it warns.

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