Extended Consequences of Acute Respiratory Infections: Introducing the Concept of “Long Colds”

by Henrik Andersen
Long Cold Symptoms

Research led by Queen Mary University of London indicates that long-term symptoms akin to those observed in ‘long Covid’ can also manifest after acute respiratory infections that are not caused by COVID-19. This underscores the necessity for increased vigilance and further study. The study was made public on October 6 in EClinicalMedicine, a journal by The Lancet.

Persistent Effects of Respiratory Illnesses

The research establishes that individuals could suffer from extended symptoms—termed ‘long colds’—following acute respiratory illnesses that yield negative results for COVID-19 testing. Among the most frequently observed symptoms of this ‘long cold’ are persistent cough, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, persisting for over four weeks from the onset of the original infection. While the severity of the original illness seems to be a critical factor in the risk for enduring symptoms, ongoing investigations aim to determine why some individuals continue to exhibit symptoms while others do not.

Comparative Examination and Results

The study implies that lingering health consequences might result from non-COVID acute respiratory infections, such as common colds, flu, or pneumonia, that currently are not receiving adequate attention. However, researchers have not yet ascertained if these symptoms endure for the same duration or with the same intensity as long Covid symptoms.

This investigation, which received funding from Barts Charity, compared the incidence and intensity of long-term symptoms between those who had recovered from COVID-19 and those who had recovered from other respiratory infections that did not test positive for COVID-19. Individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 were more likely to report symptoms like dizziness and issues with taste and smell as compared to those recovering from other respiratory infections.

Insights on Prolonged Symptoms

Despite ‘long Covid’ being an acknowledged medical condition, there are limited comparative studies on long-term symptoms arising from SARS-CoV-2 infection versus other types of respiratory infections.

This research is a part of COVIDENCE UK, a national research project on COVID-19 spearheaded by Queen Mary University of London that was initiated in 2020. It is still under review and has enlisted more than 19,000 participants. The data for this study came from questionnaires filled out by 10,171 adults in the UK, and statistical methodologies were employed to identify clusters of symptoms.

Giulia Vivaldi, a researcher from Queen Mary University of London and the study’s lead author, commented: “Our research not only highlights the ramifications of long Covid but also draws attention to other respiratory infections. The absence of both awareness and standardized terminology hampers diagnosis and reporting of these illnesses. As we advance our understanding of long Covid, it is crucial to also focus on the prolonged impacts of other respiratory infections.”

Expert Commentary and Future Avenues

Professor Adrian Martineau, Principal Investigator of COVIDENCE UK and Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London, stated: “The results of our study resonate with those who have experienced extended symptoms post-respiratory infection but tested negative for COVID-19. Further research in this domain is essential to understand why some individuals suffer from long-lasting symptoms more than others. This knowledge could eventually inform the development of targeted treatments and care.”

Victoria King, Director of Funding and Impact at Barts Charity, emphasized: “Barts Charity was prompt in backing COVIDENCE UK to better understand the risk factors and impacts of COVID-19. This study not only reveals the extended symptoms following a Covid infection but also those following other acute respiratory infections. As our comprehension of long Covid advances, findings like these bring much-needed attention to other persistent respiratory illnesses that may be going unnoticed.”

Reference: “Long-term symptom profiles after COVID-19 vs other acute respiratory infections: a population-based observational study” by Giulia Vivaldi, Paul E. Pfeffer, Mohammad Talaei, Tariro Jayson Basera, Seif O. Shaheen, and Adrian R. Martineau, published on October 6, 2023, in EClinicalMedicine.
DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.102251

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Long Cold Symptoms

What does the research from Queen Mary University of London reveal?

The research from Queen Mary University of London reveals that individuals can experience persistent symptoms, termed ‘long colds,’ after acute respiratory infections that test negative for COVID-19.

What are some common symptoms of ‘long colds’ mentioned in the study?

Common symptoms of ‘long colds’ mentioned in the study include persistent coughing, stomach pain, and diarrhea that last for more than four weeks after the initial infection.

Is there a comparison between ‘long cold’ symptoms and ‘long Covid’ symptoms?

Yes, the study compares ‘long cold’ symptoms with ‘long Covid’ symptoms. While both conditions involve extended symptoms after respiratory infections, the study does not confirm that ‘long cold’ symptoms are of the same severity or duration as ‘long Covid’ symptoms.

What is the significance of this research?

This research highlights the need for greater awareness and investigation into the long-term health impacts of non-COVID acute respiratory infections, such as common colds, flu, or pneumonia, which may currently be underestimated.

Who funded this research?

The research was funded by Barts Charity, and it’s a part of the COVIDENCE UK study, conducted by Queen Mary University of London.

How was the research conducted?

The study analyzed data from 10,171 UK adults through questionnaires and statistical analysis to identify symptom patterns and clusters.

What is the DOI for the full research paper?

The DOI for the full research paper is 10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.102251.

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JournalismPro October 6, 2023 - 3:26 pm

wow, serious findings from Queen Mary U! long colds r like long covid? new stuff here!

PoliticGeek October 6, 2023 - 10:22 pm

so, symptoms after non-covid resp infects r similar to long covid? imp research, cud help lots!

CryptoQueen October 7, 2023 - 3:10 am

qmul keepin us up2date, imp 2 kno long colds ≠ long covid. gd 2 hv data!


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