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A recent study proposes the existence of a condition termed ‘long flu,’ akin to long COVID. Researchers have been investigating the long-term effects of COVID-19 on different organ systems, leading to persistent and disabling health issues referred to as ‘long COVID.’

Flu has similarities to COVID-19

The study conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System has found similarities between the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and influenza. The research reveals that individuals hospitalized with the flu may experience lasting adverse health effects, particularly affecting their lungs and airways.

According to the study individuals hospitalized for the flu face elevated risks of death, organ complications, and hospital readmission in the 18 months post-hospitalization. These risks parallel those observed in individuals hospitalized for COVID-19.

Senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the possibility of long-term health effects from viral infections. The study aimed to compare the long-term outcomes of COVID-19 with the flu. Ziyad Al-Aly explained that the findings revealed that the flu can also lead to chronic disease and long-term health problems, similar to COVID-19. Therefore this discovery emphasizes the importance of understanding the potential long-term consequences of viral infections beyond their initial acute phase.

However the researchers challenge the widespread belief that COVID-19 and flu are short-term illnesses, emphasizing that health risks are highest one month after infection. Despite the common perception that individuals recover after hospital discharge, the study indicates that both viruses may lead to long-haul illness.

Flu and COVID 19 cause prolonged suffering

The research reveals that both COVID-19 and flu can cause prolonged suffering, but COVID-19 poses a significantly greater risk of death and overall health decline. Unlike the flu, which mainly affects the respiratory system, COVID-19 has a broader impact, potentially harming any organ system, differentiating the severity of their effects.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly explains that the flu is predominantly a respiratory virus, confirming long-held beliefs. In contrast, COVID-19 is more aggressive and affects multiple organs, including the lungs, heart, brain, and kidneys. This non-selective attack leads to more severe or fatal conditions.