18 Aug 2021

St Helens residents suffering with the effects of Long Covid are being urged to seek out local support services to help them overcome the debilitating effects of the illness - initially by contacting their GP.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, an increasing number of people who initially contracted Covid-19 have since been affected by symptoms of Long Covid, which can result in prolonged effects of the disease lasting months after the initial illness has passed.

Symptoms can include repeated extreme tiredness or fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, insomnia, dizziness and joint pains. Even though some people may regain some senses lost during the initial illness, such as sense of smell, they can return in distorted form leading to even greater discomfort for sufferers.

St Helens CCG and Council are encouraging residents with Long Covid to come forward to get support for their symptoms and avoid suffering in silence.  There is strong support available to residents from local health services and anyone who is being affected by Long Covid is urged to get in touch with their GP initially as soon as possible.”

Case study:

St Helens resident, Nicola, (name changed) first experienced Covid symptoms in March 2020. At the time she managed the illness herself at home but 12 months later she found she was still suffering with regular shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle pain.

Prior to the illness Nicola was previously fit and healthy and ran up to seven miles several times per week. However now she was struggling to run half of that. As a result she was now anxious about returning to work once the furlough scheme ended.

After seeing her doctor, Nicola was referred to the Long Covid Assessment Hub based in Liverpool, before being referred to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation team at the O’Hanlon Centre in Peasley Cross, St Helens.

Laura Connard, Clinical Lead Physiotherapist with the Pulmonary Rehabilitation team based at the O’Hanlon Centre, who treated Nicola, said: “The impact that Long Covid had had on Nicola was substantial. She was very keen to try and regain some of her stamina and fitness so we enrolled her onto the ‘Your COVID Recovery’ online programme.

“This is a stepped approach to increasing fitness and stamina and with support Nicola was able to complete a programme of exercises to improve her strength and breathing pattern, and look at ways to improve the quality of her running.

“After several weeks she said she felt stronger and fitter, and her quality of life outcome scores had improved significantly.“

Anyone in St Helens borough suffering with suspected Long Covid symptoms should contact their GP initially. From there you may potentially be referred to the Long Covid hub in Liverpool for further assessment.

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said : “The experience of going through an illness like Covid-19 is bad enough but the prolonged effects of Long Covid can be even more traumatic for many people in the long term.

“Even the return of some senses after the initial Covid illness like their sense of smell can mean they are unable to eat properly because everything seems so horribly distorted to them.

“If you are suffering with Long Covid symptoms please do seek out help. There are excellent local health services available that will be able to give you the support you need.”

If you are being affected by Long Covid, contact your GP in the first instance.

More information on the long term effects of coronavirus and how to manage them can be found on the NHS website here.