Covid: 67% of people with long Covid are developing this nervous system disorder

A recent study finds that moderate to severe autonomic dysfunction was present in most long Covid patients surveyed.

The global spread of Covid-19 may be slowing, but there is evidence that people who are still battling with symptoms of the disease after 30 days, are developing autonomic nervous system disorder. In a new study, researchers found that close to 70% of long Covid patients are experiencing symptoms of dysautonomia.

Research findings

Dysautonomia is the umbrella term for autonomic nervous system disorders that can cause problems regulating the heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in lightheadedness, palpitations, fainting, debilitating fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, exercise intolerance, headaches, and more.

The team, led by researchers from Stanford University, set out to find evidence to support the incidence of autonomic manifestations in patients with long Covid. After surveying 2,314 adult, long Covid patients, they concluded that autonomic dysfunction was frequent among the majority of these people, regardless of the severity of their symptoms.

Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, Mitchell Miglis, explains:

Identifying dysautonomia in Long COVID is important because the autonomic nervous system plays a critical role in regulating immune function, inflammation, coagulation pathways, fatigue, exercise intolerance, cognition, and other factors that appear to play a role in Long COVID.
Getty/ Luis Alvarez

Relevance of study

Presently, there’s no cure for most types of dysautonomia. Treatment can involve medications, physical exercise, and increased fluid and sodium intake. In some cases, dysautonomia improves when the underlying disease that causes the condition is treated. Dr Miglis is hopeful the research findings will be useful in this regard.

Treatments that improve autonomic nervous system function may offer great benefit in treating the debilitating symptoms of Long COVID.

There are not many doctors certified in autonomic disorders, with even fewer speciality centres equipped to diagnose, treat and study dysautonomia. Due to many long Covid patients developing this condition, these facilities are overwhelmed. Dysautonomia International Board Member, Jacqueline Rutter, says:

We need the National Institutes of Health to immediately address this crisis and begin funding research aimed at developing effective treatments for Long COVID dysautonomia

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