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Defining long COVID – a slideshow


National Academy of Medicine proposes a standard way to discuss ‘a widespread, poorly understood medical condition.’

After tremendous effects on the health of people and society, many physicians and patients are happy the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

But for some patients, health problems from the pandemic still linger. For all the physical symptoms and conditions, there are various schools of thought about how medicine, science and society should define long COVID.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has published its new report listing the characteristics of “an infection-associated chronic condition that occurs after COVID-19 infection and is present for at least three months as a continuous, relapsing and remitting, or progressive disease state that affects one or more organ systems.”

A common definition is needed because lack of a mutually understood definition presents challenges for patients, physicians and other clinicians, public health practitioners, researchers and policymakers, according to NASEM.

“Inconsistent disease terminology and meaning can confound clinicians, limit the generalizability of research findings, and inhibit patients from obtaining the recognition, care, and support they need,” Harvey V. Fineberg, chair of NASEM’s Committee on Examining the Working Definition for Long COVID, said in the report’s preface.

This slideshow presents NASEM’s definition. Next are the single or multiple symptoms, and single or multiple diagnosable conditions. Finally, there are seven important features that NASEM said physicians, other clinicians, patients, researchers and policymakers should be aware of.

All data and information come from “A Long COVID Definition: A Chronic, Systemic Disease State with Profound Consequences,” the consensus study report published June 11, 2024, and NASEM’s accompanying news release.

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