NewsCause of Long Covid: Experts come up with a...

Cause of Long Covid: Experts come up with a new thesis

Researchers may have made a breakthrough in researching the causes of Long Covid. In a Corona pilot study, they express a concrete suspicion.

Badalona – For a long time, little was known about the causes of Long Covid. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), these are “longer-term health consequences of a SARS-CoV-2 infection”. These are not only physical, but also mental health impairments. The long Covid symptoms are diverse* and include, for example, heart problems, shortness of breath and anxiety or depression.

But why do some still have to struggle with the consequences for weeks and sometimes even months after their corona infection *? Scientists from Spain are now on the trail of the cause of Long Covid. What did they find out and do you classify their results?

Inwieweit hängt der Vagusnerv mit Long Covid zusammen? Eine Studie liefert erste Antworten. (Symbolfoto)


How is the Vagus Nerve related to Long Covid? A study provides the first answers. (symbol photo)

Long Covid: What is the cause – and what role does the vagus nerve play?

The study by the researchers at the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital in Badalona has not yet been published or reviewed by experts. The study will be presented in full to the specialist public for the first time at the European Congress for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in April. But the first results are already making waves.

The researchers assume that between ten and fifteen percent of those infected will later also develop symptoms of Long Covid. In their investigation, they investigated whether Long Covid is connected to the vagus nerve. But what is the vagus nerve?

This special nerve runs its course from the brain to the abdomen, while also reaching into the heart, lungs, intestines and muscles. It controls important functions such as heartbeat, breathing, speech and digestion. The vagus nerve is considered in the treatment of many diseases, such as migraines*.

Cause of Long Covid: study with surprising thesis

For their study, the experts worked with a cohort of 348 patients with Long Covid. Over 65 percent of them had symptoms that indicated vagus nerve dysfunction. The current pilot study finally examined 22 of them more closely. Of these subjects, 20 were female and the median age was 44 years. Certain symptoms indicated a disturbance in vagus nerve function. An overview of the 22 subjects provides information:

Symptom of vagus nerve dysfunction Frequency within the pilot study
diarrhea 73 percent
racing heart (tachycardia) 59 percent
dizziness 45 percent
Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) and voice disorders (dysphonia) 45 percent
drop in blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) 14 percent

Of the 22 people studied, 86 percent had at least three of these symptoms, which lasted an average of 14 months. In the second step, the experts examined the patient’s vagus nerve more closely.

Corona study: What is behind Long Covid? Researchers have a suspicion

To find out whether damage to the nerve is behind the symptoms, various studies have been carried out. A change in the vagus nerve was found in six of the 22 patients. Functions related to the vagus nerve were also evaluated.

The researchers summarize their results according to EurekAlert! by saying that most long-Covid sufferers with symptoms of vagus nerve dysfunction also had structural or functional changes in their vagus nerve. These included nerve thickening, difficulty swallowing, and symptoms of impaired breathing. “Our results to date thus point to vagus nerve dysfunction as a central pathophysiological feature of Long Covid,” the researchers say.

Long Covid: How should the Corona study on the role of the vagus nerve be classified?

David Strain, Chair of the BMA Board of Science, spoke to the Science Media Center about the results of the pilot study. He emphasizes that the study has not yet been published and therefore a precise evaluation of the data is not possible. However, he also explains that many previous studies have already pointed to an influence of the nervous system on long-Covid symptoms.

Still, it’s likely that not all Long Covid symptoms are related to the vagus nerve. Treating vagus nerve dysfunction could bring relief to some long-Covid sufferers. However, Strain thinks it is unlikely that this will also treat the underlying cause. This could lead to patients suffering from the same symptoms again after treatment. For an all-encompassing treatment, both the symptoms and the underlying causes must be considered. (Sophia Lother) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

Rubriklistenbild: © Science Photo Library/Imago

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