26 September 2023

New clinic to deal with long COVID illness

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The Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) has said that a new clinic at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been introduced to help South Australians experiencing the long COVID syndrome receive specialised treatment.

Infectious Disease Physician at CALHN, Dr Renjy Nelson said the clinic provided rehabilitation for patients with suspected long COVID when their symptoms had not resolved after 12 weeks.

“We know that long COVID can present in a variety of ways and is often debilitating for those who suffer from it,” Dr Nelson said.

“While most people with COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, some can continue to experience symptoms for weeks or months after their diagnosis,” he said.

“This is called ‘long COVID’.”

Dr Nelson said long COVID symptoms could include extreme fatigue (tiredness); shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness; problems with memory and concentration; changes to taste and smell; and joint and muscle pain.

He said the CALHN’s infectious disease team collaborated with SA Pathology and the University of Adelaide to develop a clear pathway and treatment options for patients with long COVID.

Dr Nelson said between 10 and 20 per cent of people who contracted COVID-19 experienced a range of ongoing symptoms.

He said the team supporting the long COVID clinic came from specialties including cardiology, respiratory medicine, rheumatology, renal medicine, haematology, neurology, psychology, psychiatry, general medicine, immunology, rehabilitation medicine, and occupational therapy.

“Patients with long COVID will require support from at least one, and often multiple, specialists in these areas,” he said.

Dr Nelson said that along with clinical care, the long COVID clinic would be used as a diagnostic research tool with patients being monitored three years after they first accessed the clinic.

Information on clinic access, referral forms and other resources can be found at this PS News link.

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