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The pandemic is starting to feel like a bad memory for many Britons but this is not the case for a large minority. That’s because they are still living with the effects of the viral infection. It’s estimated that over a million Britons are living with long Covid, which has come to describe the symptoms that linger long after the initial infection has disappeared.
One sufferer, Mum-of-two Linda Hamlet, 49, has described how long Covid left her with “debilitating” memory loss.
Linda, who works in the oil industry, was already signed off work with another condition when she got Covid.
But said she is no closer to returning due to her debilitating symptoms, including headaches, tinnitus and brain fog.
She struggles to drive, watch TV or read due to issues with her concentration and has had short term memory loss – which left her unsure how to change her bed.
Her husband Paul, who has worked offshore for a decade, had to give up his job to look after Linda and their sons.
Linda, from Aberdeenshire, said she is frustrated with the lack of support for long Covid sufferers, and has been left fearing for her future with no treatment available. Linda said: “I have a responsible and technical job in the oil industry.
“I’m a reasonably intelligent woman but a few weeks ago, I was changing the bed and I couldn’t for the life of me work out how the duvet cover went on. That’s how much my brain has been scrambled by long Covid.
“Sometimes I can’t drive, watch TV or read a book because I can’t concentrate. I’m fortunate my employer has been understanding and supportive, but I’m worried about the future.”
She continued: “There doesn’t seem to be any treatment available, or any understanding of what people like me with long Covid are having to deal with.”
In addition to memory loss, Linda has experienced a host of “debilitating” symptoms.
She said: “I have debilitating headaches, cannot concentrate on anything now and my short-term retention memory is poor. I have also suffered with bouts of insomnia, too.”
Linda has also had to suffer occasional chest pains, inflammation, numbness and pins and needles on her left-hand side.
Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “The number of people living with the long term effects of long Covid is increasing at an alarming rate. Every month more and more people are needing support and progress to meet their needs for care just isn’t fast enough.
“They deserve better and we need to see more urgent action from the Scottish Government. People might feel we are getting back to some kind of normality, but so many people with Long Covid feel there is no return to normality in sight.
“Many are struggling to return to their jobs or do the things many of us take for granted like going for a walk to the end of the road. We need to see urgent action to make sure a wraparound service is in place.
“That service also needs a system where people can be easily referred through to third sector services to ensure we’re reaching everyone with Long Covid who needs support.”
Recent research suggests memory loss is worryingly common among long Covid sufferers.
Seven in ten long Covid patients experience concentration and memory problems several months after the initial onset of their disease, with many performing worse than their peers on cognitive tests, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.
Half of the patients in the study reported difficulties in getting medical professionals to take their symptoms seriously, perhaps because cognitive symptoms do not get the same attention as lung problems or fatigue.
In a study of 181 long COVID patients, 78 percent reported difficulty concentrating, 69 percent reported brain fog, 68 percent reported forgetfulness, and 60 percent reported problems finding the right word in speech.
These self-reported symptoms were reflected in significantly lower ability to remember words and pictures in cognitive tests.