‘Hypersensitivity’ to light and sound is a side effect of long Covid

Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus

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In most cases of COVID-19 a patient will make a full recovery after a few weeks. However, for some the symptoms can linger beyond 12 weeks, for months and maybe even years. This can make every day activities difficult, especially if they are suffering with some of the common side effects like fatigue.

However, there are also some lesser known symptoms that are frustrating to live with.

Jon Taberner, senior rehabilitation specialist at Nuffield Health, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

He said: “The first signs that someone may be suffering from long Covid is fatigue and/or breathlessness that lingers longer than 12 weeks after the initial infection.

“The breathlessness can be at rest or under very low levels of exertion, lower than an individual would experience some mild breathlessness pre-infection.

“The fatigue can range from general tiredness, lack of ‘get up and go’ or extreme fatigue, feeling like they’re too tired to get out of bed or mobilise; the symptoms will greatly vary between person to person.”

He said some patients will experience “hypersensitivity” to light and/or sound.

“Some of the more unusual symptoms of long Covid are hypersensitivity to either light, sound, or both, with it feeling like an overstimulation of one of both of those senses under normal circumstances,” he said.

According to a study, published in Infectious Diseases: Pathogenesis and Therapy in 2022, sensory changes due to Covid are common.

Up to 20 percent of patients in one paper it reviewed experienced light sensitivity.

“Gonzalez-Hermosillo et al reported light sensitivity in 18.5 percent and 20 percent of participants after three and six months respectively,” it said.

“Light sensitivity was also associated with fatigue status with significantly higher rates in participants experiencing fatigue compared to those who did three months post COVID-19 (this was non-significant at six-months post COVID-19).”

Mr Taberner also warned that long Covid symptoms could be exacerbated due to the menstrual cycle.

He said: “I’ve also worked with patients who have found they would have severe bouts of fatigue and sickness around their menstrual cycle, with extreme fatigue being their main symptom during that week.

“They tend to recover within a few days, but with it occurring every month, it can be frustrating. With our help, this no longer happens for these individuals.”

How to ease symptoms

Mr Taberner said: “One of the best things people can do for fatigue management is the three P’s: pace, plan, prioritise.

“This is where you rank your tasks day to day on a priority basis, and only take care of tasks that are essential in each given day, whilst adding short five to 10-minute breaks in during the task, instead of resting and recovering after a task.

“Speaking to your employer and making them aware of how you’re feeling and the additional support you require can also be very beneficial.

“A lot of employers would rather add in extra provisions such as a 10 minute break every couple of hours, or altering your lunch break into smaller, more frequent breaks, than you not being able to work at all.

“For breathlessness, practising deep breathing techniques, breathing in up to the stage of mild discomfort but not pain, can help to stretch and break down any scar tissue that may be present in the lungs.

“This is a steady process which requires time and consistency to achieve, using meditation techniques to help with relaxation.”

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