Health

Long Covid: I don’t have a life, I currently have an existence – BBC News

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By Nicola Haseler
BBC Look East

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Annette Shelford
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image copyrightAnnette Shelford

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image captionAnnette Shelford says people like her feel they are being ignored

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A woman being treated for chronic fatigue after having presumed Covid-19 has called for urgent research into the impact of the virus.

Annette Shelford, 48, from Cambridge, had two weeks of “non-stop pain” after a fever in March and said she had suffered severe problems ever since.

“We urgently need recognition, research and rehab for people like me who are still struggling,” she said.

The government said it recognised the impact of Covid-19 on long-term health.

Ms Shelford, a former fitness instructor, said after developing symptoms she followed government advice, self-isolated for two weeks, and did not call the doctor or NHS 111.

She was not able to confirm it was coronavirus as it was before mass testing was available, but said doctors who had been treating her were referring to her illness as post-Covid.

A day later, her symptoms returned.

“It was like being hit by a steam-roller. All the pain came back, with new symptoms, and it’s been a journey like that for the past six months,” she said.

Annette Shelford with her partnerimage copyrightAnnette Shelford

image captionAnnette Shelford with her partner in Tenerife

Ms Shelford said she has had severe gastro-intestinal problems, acid reflux, twitching and burning in her feet and hands, migraines, and sinusitis, and has been referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist after having bright lights in her eyes.

The science learning consultant had previously worked as a fitness instructor in her spare time for 10 years and was planning to return to teaching during her lunch breaks but said her health had deteriorated.

“I’ve had to start using a wheelchair if I want to go anywhere more than a few minutes’ walk away,” she said.

“So I’ve been pretty much housebound, and for the last two weeks I’ve been pretty much bedbound.”

Annette Shelfordimage copyrightAnnette Shelford

image captionAnnette Shelford, shown in hospital recently, says she still has severe symptoms
According to Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and leader of the Covid Symptom Study app,
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about 300,000 people in the UK have reported symptoms lasting for more than a month.

Dr Tina Peers, a consultant who treats women with histamine intolerance and
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, said she wanted to investigate whether there was a link with so-called Long Covid.

“These symptoms are incredibly familiar to me,” she said.

“After a virus, histamine can become elevated and in some people it becomes toxic. It causes a massive allergic-type reaction in the body. It can cause migraine, IBS, chronic fatigue, sinusitis, and shortness of breath.”

Dr Peers said she was gathering information about symptoms and previous history through an app.

The government said the NHS was working towards offering personalised support for patients who had been in hospital or suffered at home with the virus.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have committed £8.4m in funding to one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of coronavirus on hospitalised patients.”

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East of England, said: “We know a significant number of people are suffering with the long-term effects of coronavirus and that’s why the NHS has launched an
online COVID-19 rehab service, as part of plans to expand treatments for those with breathing problems, mental health problems and other complications.”

Annette Shelfordimage copyrightAnnette Shelford

image captionAnnette Shelford on top of the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District a year ago

Ms Shelford said people like her felt they were being ignored.

“Death is not the only outcome that needs to be measured from this,” she said.

“I don’t have a life, I currently have an existence and a lot of people with Long Covid feel that way.”

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