Across the UK, the number of people reporting that they have Long Covid has grown to two million.
In the South East, which covers Milton Keynes,, an estimated 285,000 people reported experiencing long-lasting effects of Covid-19 infection in the four weeks to May 1, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
This represents 3.2% of the population, a slightly higher rate than the UK average of 3.1%.
Many of the people with Long Covid in the South East have been living with it for some time.
An estimated 117,000 people, 41% of those with Long Covid, were first infected with Covid-19 at least a year before.
What are the symptoms of Long Covid?
Typical symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell, but these usually don’t last more than three weeks.
The long-term symptoms that some people experience often vary widely and encompass both physical and neurological effects, with these lasting into weeks and even months in some cases.
The most common symptom of Long Covid is severe fatigue, while other sufferers have reported breathlessness, a persistent cough, joint pain, muscle aches and mental health problems.
The vast array of symptoms include:
Muscle aches and weakness
Memory loss or lack of concentration
Struggling to think clearly
Loss of taste and smell
Hearing and eyesight problems
Why is the virus causing long-term effects?
It is believed that while the virus may have been cleared from most of the body, it can continue to linger in some small pockets which can cause longer-lasting symptoms.
As the virus can directly infect a wide variety of cells in the body, it can trigger an overactive immune system which causes damage throughout the body.
It is thought that the immune system does not return to normal after infection and this can cause damage to how the body’s organs function, such as if the lungs become scarred. This has been seen after Sars or Mers infections, which are both types of coronavirus.
Are some people more at risk of Long Covid than others?
Developing long-term symptoms does not appear to be linked to how ill you are when you are first infected with Covid-19, but new research has identified four key factors that could increase your risk.
A recent study published in the medical journal Cell identified four common factors that can be seen in the early stages of coronavirus infections.
Researchers said these factors are often found in people who later develop long-lasting symptoms, even if the infection was mild.
The four factors thought to increase the likelihood of developing Long Covid are:
The viral load in a person’s blood
The presence of certain autoantibodies (antibodies that recognise parts of our own body) which are often used to combat the virus and its symptoms
The reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus, which has been known to infect people at a young age
If the patient has Type 2 diabetes
More information on recovery from Covid-19 can be found on the NHS Your COVID Recovery website.