“The cough has lasted since September”: Russians began to get an unusually long cold

“The cough has lasted since September”: Russians began to get an unusually long cold

The season of acute respiratory viruses in Russia is in full swing: the number of patients with Covid, influenza, and other acute respiratory viral infections is growing. And everything seems to be as usual, but in patient chats there are increasingly stories of people with strange, very long-term acute respiratory viral infections, in comparison with which even Covid seems like a child’s prank to many. “I’ve been sick for three months now,” says one patient. — Tests for covid and flu are negative. And I don’t believe that this will ever end.” What kind of virus came to the country - the MK columnist was looking into it.

The stories patients tell are different, but they have a lot in common. Very often, at the beginning of the disease, the voice disappears for several days. The temperature, as a rule, rises low, to a maximum of 37.5, but at the same time the person feels as if he was loading wagons. And then an exhausting cough begins, which lasts for weeks and even months. “I got sick back in September,” says Ekaterina from Moscow. — One day there was no voice at all, then it recovered for about a week. And then a strong cough began, in fits and starts, which continues to this day.”

Covid tests are quite accessible today, many people have them in their first aid kit. However, patients with prolonged ARVI often say that in their cases the test results are negative. In its course, the infection is also not at all similar to the flu (the flu begins very abruptly, with a rise in temperature to high values, and only the next day makes itself felt with catarrhal symptoms). What this is - people are at a loss.

Our country is not the only one where such patients are reported. In mid-October, the medical journal eClinicalMedicine, which is published under the wing of The Lancet, published a publication that says that a new, protracted form of respiratory viral infection was discovered by scientists at Queen Mary University of London. Until now, nothing has been said about it in the scientific literature.

Researchers conducted a survey among more than 10 thousand patients who were asked about 16 symptoms characteristic of longcovid (asthenia, dizziness, joint pain, cough, hair loss, increased sweating, diarrhea, etc.). Among the respondents there were people both with a positive test for covid, and with a negative one, who were simply diagnosed with ARVI.

The results showed that 22% of people with COVID-19 suffered long-term symptoms after infection, as did 22% of those who had a non-COVID infection. Patients with Covid in the study were more likely to suffer from problems with taste and smell, as well as dizziness, than those who did not have it. They also complained of increased heart rate, sweating and hair loss. Those who did not have Covid were more likely to have a cough or a hoarse voice. Both groups suffered from shortness of breath and fatigue. “In other words, our results point to the existence of the ‘lingering cold’: long-term health consequences from other respiratory infections, influenza or pneumonia, that currently remain unrecognized,” the study authors noted.

Among the popular symptoms of “protracted ARVI,” experts identified cough, abdominal pain and diarrhea. These symptoms were reported an average of 11 weeks after infection. Scientists note that most often those who initially had severe symptoms cannot recover for a long time, but the severity of the viral disease does not always determine its subsequent duration. So far, there is no explanation for the fact that some people experience symptoms for a long time, while others do not. Scientists say they have found evidence for the first time that people can suffer from "long-lasting colds."

As the famous infectious disease specialist Professor Nikolai Malyshev told MK, he personally does not know about any new ARVI: “Whether there is a new virus or not, it will be possible to say only when a test system appears. In the meantime, she’s gone, it’s fortune telling on coffee grounds.”

At the same time, Professor Malyshev does not see a large number of patients with protracted respiratory infections in his practice: “There have always been patients who suffer from ARVI for a long time. However, each time you need to look for an explanation for this condition, which can be very individual. For example, sometimes this is due to the fact that the person was treated incorrectly. Many years ago I was sent on a business trip to Tynda, where there was a strange and inexplicable outbreak of long-term pneumonia among construction workers. There were more than a hundred such patients; they were sick for months. I started to find out what and why, and the answer was very simple: they were given a very low dose of penicillin. Such that pneumonia cannot be cured no matter how hard you try. And as a result, it turned into chronic forms for them. On top of that, these people lived in a dormitory, walked to the clinic, and the temperature there was -30. Therefore, their condition constantly worsened.”

Other explanations for the long course of a viral disease include the ability of some viruses to produce several waves in one patient: “For example, this is possible with adenovirus. RSV can also occur in waves in one patient, resulting in a long course. There are many viral respiratory infections, and there are often mixed forms, when a patient gets sick with several at once - and this can also affect the course of the disease.”

Our expert assesses today’s situation as normal for the ARVI season: “Rhinovirus is common, influenza is on the rise, and there is Covid. In general, nothing extraordinary.”

Published in the newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" No. 29161 dated November 21, 2023

Newspaper headline:
Cough of mass destruction

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