Health Care

UK researchers find evidence of ‘long cold’ syndrome

Research published Friday shows various acute respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, influenza and the common cold, may present with long-term symptoms, similar to COVID-19.

“Long cold” symptoms could linger for up to four weeks in some cases, much like “long COVID,” the UK-based researchers said.

The study tracked more than 10,000 people with COVID and non-COVID illnesses and found all groups could get long-lasting symptoms. 

“Our findings suggest that there may be long-lasting health impacts from other respiratory infections that are going unrecognised,” the authors wrote.

Those with long COVID were more likely to have reduced taste or smell and weakness, while long cold symptoms consist of coughing and stomach pain. Long-term symptoms were more likely to occur with more severe illnesses, the researchers said.

It is unknown why only some people get long-term symptoms, the study said, but the research opens the door to future studies on how common illnesses impact people over time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a much-needed spotlight on post-acute infection syndromes, highlighting the need for improved understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions,” the study reads. “While the high symptom burden we observed in participants with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection illustrates the extensive reach of long COVID, the similar burden observed among people with previous non-COVID-19 [diseases] suggests that the lasting impacts of these infections may be underestimated.” 

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report last month found that nearly 18 million Americans have long COVID, and those symptoms could linger for up to two years. About 10 percent of people who have had COVID experience some long COVID symptoms. 

Common symptoms include trouble with taste and smell and chronic fatigue or “brain fog.”

While long-term symptoms of non-COVID illnesses are generally less severe and do not last as long, the researchers said the new research will enable the study of these syndromes more effectively.

“As research into long COVID continues, we must take the opportunity to investigate and consider the post-acute burden of other [diseases], to ensure all people with post-acute [symptoms] can access the treatment and care they deserve,” the study concludes.

Tags COVID Flu long cold long covid