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Nutrition therapy for long COVID

25 November 2021
7 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 21

A clinical definition of long COVID has been released by the World Health Organization (WHO) (2021) in response to a global surge in patients suffering with long COVID, where symptoms are continuing 3 months and beyond. Long COVID can occur in anyone who has contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, irrespective of age and severity of COVID-19 illness. Up to 3 in 10 post-COVID-19 patients are suffering with long COVID symptoms, which are reported to include fatigue, poor memory and concentration, smell and taste impairment, and lack of appetite. To date, the exact mechanisms responsible for persistent symptoms of long COVID are not known.

Studies have had more emphasis on dietary and lifestyle habits associated with post-viral persisting inflammation. Dietary and lifestyle factors could have implications such as prolonging symptoms or preventing the ability to return to full health. Loss of smell and taste was common in COVID patients, and now commonly occurs in post-COVID patients. A survey led by the Royal College of General Practitioners (2020) found that more than half of UK GPs surveyed had patients who reported taste and smell disorders after 3 months. A group of international scientists surveyed around 1500 participants with co-impaired smell and taste at COVID onset and followed up their symptom and recovery at a median of 200 days since the illness onset (Ohla et al, 2021). The findings revealed that about two-thirds of participants had persistent symptoms at the 200-day follow-up point. The recovery of smell was less likely to occur than that of taste. Individuals with persistently altered smell were also more likely to have taste disorder and other long COVID symptoms including headache, fatigue and lack of appetite.

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