An Irish woman has said chronic fatigue and feeling like a cough is "grating" your lungs are some of the worst symptoms of 'long COVID'.
According to a new study by a team of Irish researchers, regardless of the severity of the initial infection, patients can find themselves suffering from 'long COVID' after the initial infection has passed.
Liam Townsend, a research fellow at TCD’s Department of Clinical Medicine and specialist registrar at St James’s Hospital, who led the study, said there is no evidence of irreversible damage.
However, the research found that patients cannot be guaranteed when or if their symptoms will improve.
He estimates that 2% of people who contracted coronavirus still suffer with the impacts of the virus three months later, and it is "striking" that 'long COVID' is not related to how severe the initial infection was.
Aoife Moore, a mother of two from Co Galway, tested positive for coronavirus on April 8th, 2020, almost a month after initially presenting to her GP with symptoms.
She told The Hard Shoulder that this time was "very harrowing" and "very difficult".
"I was in bed all the time, I would describe the cough like your lungs are being grated, they're being burned.
She added that she was "incredibly unwell" and in and out of consciousness, rather than being able to sleep.
"On the Monday before I got tested, my husband rang the doctor terrified because I wasn't responding in bed," she explained.
Aoife believes the fact that her oxygen stats were stable and she is under the age of 45 with no underlying conditions were reasons as to why she wasn't hospitalised.
She said: "I get a bit emotional thinking about it now because it was a really tough time."
She said her symptoms, including the feeling that someone is "sitting on your chest" and chronic fatigue, took a long time to alleviate.
Aoife stated that fatigue is the worst symptom she still has and sought to highlight it is very different to tiredness
"The way I would describe it is if you put your hands in front of you and you had to keep them there and not put them down," she said.
"Eventually, no matter how fit you are, you're going to want to drop your hands, your muscles are going to ache.
"With long COVID, with chronic fatigue, you can't and that's what it feels like pretty much all the time when you're out of bed."
'A game of snakes and ladders'
Aoife said her symptoms persisted and was still isolating in May, so she asked her GP for another test to see if she was contagious, for which she tested negative.
Since then, she describes living with the virus as like "a game of snakes and ladders" where symptoms improve and emerge again at different stages.
Last May, Aoife's son was diagnosed with autism and she said it has been difficult for him to be separated from her while she has been sick.
She said her husband is now acting like her carer, rather than them working as a partnership in the household, which is "a lot" for him as he gets no respite.
'Long COVID' impacts every part of your life, including your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, she added.