What is long Covid and what are the known symptoms?
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Menopause is a natural part of life that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. It describes a time when a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, affecting her body in many ways. This hormone drop can cause different symptoms. Now, experts warn that women with long Covid might be actually going through this hormone-linked change instead.
Long Covid describes a variety of symptoms linked to the virus that persist even for months after you battled the disease.
Some of the common symptoms that people with long Covid reported are lasting fatigue, sleep problems and brain fog.
However, researchers from Manchester and Warwick universities think some of the tell-tale signs of long Covid could be actually caused by menopause.
Long Covid disproportionately affects women and those aged between 50 to 69, according to figures.
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In an academic article, the researchers expressed the long Covid symptoms had a “significant overlap” with menopause.
The comment piece based on scientific research published in The Lancet Regional Health was produced by Dr Stuart Stewart, a population health expert at Manchester University.
The co-authors included Dr Louise Newson, a menopause specialist at the National Institute for Health Research, and Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist from Warwick Medical School.
The team said: “Many symptoms of long Covid have a significant overlap with the perimenopause and menopause, both of which affect women of all ages.”
They added: “Failure to recognise this overlap misses an opportunity to treat many debilitating symptoms affecting both physical and mental health.
“But also to reduce some women’s risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and possibly dementia.
“All of which increase after the menopause,” said the team.
The academics stated that the higher prevalence of long Covid in women under the age of 50 is an “important and supporting clue” because the average age of natural menopause is 51 years.
The researchers said: “Many symptoms of Long Covid (fatigue, muscle aches, palpitations, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance) have a significant overlap with the perimenopause and menopause.
“Both which can affect women of all ages.”
The academics highlighted that the role of sex hormones in COVID-19 infection are only beginning to emerge now.
A recent study shows clinical and immunological differences between sexes in acute COVID-19 infection.
This study found women had lower mortality, lower levels of inflammation, higher lymphocyte count and faster antibody responses compared to men.
The researchers, looking at the link between Covid and menopause, stress that long Covid clinics should receive training in menopause care and perform screenings for the diagnosis.
“So perimenopausal and menopausal women can be promptly diagnosed and offered appropriate management.
“Failure to explore sex-specific risk and outcomes in COVID-19 is unethical and associated with several risks,” added the team.
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