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Long Covid specialist warns in an interview: The “new widespread disease” will be with us for a long time

Jördis Frommhold urgently warns against underestimating the long-term consequences of Corona: Many of her patients are unable to work due to Long Covid.

Heiligendamm – It happened that Jördis Frommhold became an expert on Long Covid. Up until two years ago, the chief physician at the Median Clinic in Heiligendamm primarily treated lung patients. But then came Corona and the long-term consequences: Long Covid. Frommhold has made the “new widespread disease” a top priority. And is considered an absolute specialist in the disease, about which little is known; The researchers have not yet been able to find a cause for it – and therefore no medication either.

Long Covid specialist warns in an interview: The “new widespread disease” will be with us for a long time

All Frommhold can do for her patients is treat the symptoms. The doctor does this with heart and soul. Also because she sees every day how much her patients suffer from the long-term consequences. Loss of taste and hair loss in tufts are among the harmless symptoms. Some of those affected, including many young people, can no longer cope with their everyday life. They have trouble concentrating, can hardly get out of bed, can no longer work. Frommhold writes about their fates in their book “Long Covid – the new widespread disease” (CHBeck Verlag). You are not alone. In Germany * an estimated one million people are already affected by Long Covid. Because of the high incidence, it will probably affect even more people in the near future, reports*.

Ms Frommhold also advises politicians such as Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and warns against underestimating the effects of Long Covid: “If many people in systemically important professions are absent for months and years, this can also have far-reaching effects on the economy,” she says . But that’s just one reason why education is so important to her. A conversation about the underestimated disease Long Covid and the long-term consequences of Corona.

Long Covid specialist warns in an interview: “You can also get Long Covid from Omikron.” Mrs. Dr. Frommhold, you describe Long Covid as a new widespread disease. Isn’t that a bit exaggerated?
dr med Jördis Frommhold: “Not at all.”
How many people are affected by Long Covid in Germany?
“According to statistics, almost 14 million people are considered to have recovered from Covid-19. Quite a few of them suffer from Long Covid today. How many exactly, there are very different research results. Some analyzes have shown that 40 percent of the unvaccinated get Long Covid after a corona infection *. I’m more like 10 percent.”
And what about the vaccinated?
“My guess is 5 percent. That sounds relatively small. But in Germany alone, around one million people are already affected. And the disease is just picking up speed again.”
Isn’t Omicron less likely to get Long Covid than Delta? After all, Omicron is considered less aggressive…
“Omicron isn’t just mild, that’s a fallacy. In unvaccinated people, Omicron can also be very heavy*. I just had a patient, 41 years old, actually in top shape, but not vaccinated. She was in intensive care for four weeks. Unfortunately, there are also breakthrough infections among those who have been vaccinated. These can also lead to Long Covid. The next few weeks will show how many that will be at Omikron.”
Die Long Covid-Expertin Jördis Frommhold mit Lothar Wieler vom Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI) und Bundesgesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) bei einer Pressekonferenz über Corona


The Long Covid expert Jördis Frommhold (left), the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler (middle), and the Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (right, SPD) at a press conference on Corona.

Hair loss, extreme fatigue, memory problems: there are 200 different Long Covid symptoms

How do I know if I have Long Covid? What are the symptoms?
“There are over 200 different symptoms*. But you have to differentiate. On the one hand, there are patients who depend on the lung machine* in the intensive care unit. They still have breathing problems or reduced performance. But that can be treated well. Once these people have grabbed the lung machine, they have a good prognosis of returning to normal life.”
What about the others?
“These are the patients who have had a moderate or even unnoticed infection. These people get symptoms again one to three months after Corona*. Most have hair loss. Some so strong that they fall out in bunches because Corona attacks the hair roots in many people. A 32-year-old patient once showed me a picture of herself from before. She had such beautiful long blond hair, looked like a model. Then she sat in front of me on the chair with her thin, blunt hair and cried. Hair loss is bad for most of my patients. Although of course there are other symptoms that really affect life.”
That sounds intense. What are these symptoms?
“Many suffer from extreme fatigue, meaning they are very tired and exhausted and can hardly get out of bed*. Others have massive and painful joint and muscle problems or abnormal blood pressure. Or they have severe cognitive limitations, so they can no longer remember anything. For example, a patient of mine leaves the key in the car every day. A study was recently published showing that Corona can even shrink the brain*.”
That sounds scary.
“That’s it.”
What are the consequences when the brain shrinks?
“Even if the brain shrinks by only 0.2 to 2 percent according to the study, this could have consequences for the intelligence of an affected person. Of course, such a study scares those affected who realize that their brain is not working so well at the moment. They are wondering how long it will stay that way.”
How long have you had Long Covid?
“The problem is that we still know so little about Long Covid*. The cause of the disease is still unknown, so there is no medicine to treat it. Until you know where exactly Long Covid originates, you can only treat the symptoms.”
Die Long Covid-Expertin Jördis Frommhold mit einer geheilten Patientin.


Long Covid expert Jördis Frommhold talks to a healed patient.

Long Covid specialist on long-term corona effects: “My patients need to understand that they now have a different life.”

What are your long-Covid patients particularly suffering from?
“Young people in particular look healthy and fit at first glance. They suffer a lot from the fact that no one believes they are doing badly. Neither the family nor the employer. Even some doctors do not yet recognize the disease as such. When those affected are with me in the clinic, some cry with joy because someone finally believes them.”
Why don’t many of these people believe this?
“I am currently treating a soldier who is trained like Arnold Schwarzenegger – and can no longer climb the stairs. Of course, if you are not familiar with the disease, you cannot imagine it. That is why education is so important.”
Why is it that he is suddenly so weak?
“It is often due to the wrong breathing technique that you can no longer breathe. You can train that. The situation is different if there is really fatigue, i.e. people feel exhausted. They have to accept that they have to live a different life now*.”
A different life?
“Yes. A colleague who has long Covid does not get out of bed some days and is then drenched in sweat. If she feels well again one day, she is of course happy and thinks everything is back to normal and overwhelms herself. That everything is ok, but it is a fallacy. These patients have to learn to take it easy even on good days in order to save their strength for the bad days. You have to know your limits. This is also difficult for the soldier. He just wants his normal life back. But that’s just not possible.”
That must be depressing for these people.
“Absolutely. They must assume that they have a chronic disease that is currently not curable. That they are not allowed to overstrain themselves, for example with sport. They have to divide their powers in order to live as normal a life as possible. In my clinic, men in particular have a problem with it.”
“Yes. I have managers and bosses here who tell me to get them fit in three weeks. Of course that doesn’t work. Unfortunately I don’t have a magic wand. I have to make it clear to them that they have a chronic illness.”

Definition of Long Covid:

Health problems that persist beyond the acute phase of a SARS-CoV-2 infection of 4 weeks or that occur again.

Long Covid: Symptoms can only be treated – no medication for long-term corona effects yet

What do you estimate, when will there be medication for Long Covid?
“I can not say that. There is currently no cure for this disease. But through therapy and also independent exercise, cooperation and self-care by the patient, the symptoms can be alleviated*.”
A lot of people are getting Corona right now. Is there any way to protect yourself from Long Covid?
“There are now many studies showing that vaccination reduces the likelihood of contracting Long Covid by 70 percent. But even if you have a vaccination breakthrough, you can do something. I had Corona myself two months ago. In the acute phase, I consciously did the breathing exercises that are also in my book. I imagine that this helped preventively. I claim that if I take a few precautionary measures, breathe properly and take care of myself during the illness, then I can reduce the risk of getting Long Covid myself. So: Take it easy until you really feel completely normal. Long Covid is also a problem of our meritocracy. It’s taking revenge now.”
Educational work is extremely important to you, you organize further training seminars for doctors yourself, so that it is easier for them to diagnose Long Covid. In addition, your book has just been published. Why is it so important to you to talk about this topic?
“Corona has changed the world. And the pandemic is far from over*. Even if there are easing now – the incidences are high and we must continue to be careful. People need to understand: Long Covid will continue to be a major challenge for our society. Quite apart from the fates of the people who touch me emotionally as a doctor. If our society not only wants to survive this pandemic, but even emerge stronger from it, then we have to understand and support those affected. And also invest in excellent research and improvements in the health sector.”
Miss Dr. Frommhold, thank you very much for the interview

*,,, and are offered by IPPEN.MEDIA.

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