AN urgent warning has been issued to women who've had Covid-19.
Many people who have caught the virus have since gone on to develop long Covid.
It's a debilitating condition that can leave you battling chronic fatigue, breathlessness and even mental health issues such as anxiety, the NHS says.
But experts at the University of East Anglia have now warned that certain groups are more at risk.
Writing in the journal PLOS Global Public Health, experts in Norfolk said that overweight women were more likely to experience symptoms of long Covid than those with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).
Data from the most recent health survey shows that 28 per cent of adults in England are obese, this would refer to someone with a BMI of 30 or higher.
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This is while a further 36.2 per cent are overweight, which refers to someone with a BMI of 25 to 30.
Research shows that obesity levels among women are around two per cent higher than those in men, while more men are overweight.
Experts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) said their study shows that having a higher BMI is linked to long Covid and that women are more likely to experience this than men.
They analysed data from 1,487 patients which covered long Covid symptoms.
More than half of the participants said they had at least one symptom.
Then the experts looked at their medical records to see if there were any patterns when it came to their health and the symptoms they were suffering.
Prof Vassilios Vassiliou, from UEA's Norwich Medical School said: "We found that more women than men had long COVID symptoms. We also found that having a higher BMI was linked with long Covid.
"This is really important because information like this can be used to profile those people who are 'at risk' of developing long Covid.
The symptoms of long Covid you need to know
The NHS says that the most common symptoms of long Covid include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle aches.
Experts added that there are many other symptoms that you might also experience after infection.
- problems with your memory and concentration
- chest pain or tightness
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
If you are worried about any of your symptoms you should see a GP.
In the event of an emergency, always call 999.
"We also found that people with long Covid were over three times more likely to use healthcare services than those who didn't display long Covid symptoms.
He added that long Covid is a complex condition and refers to when symptoms continue more than 12 weeks after initially contracting the bug.
"Just over two million people in the UK are thought to suffer with long Covid and it affects people in different ways. Breathlessness, a cough, heart palpitations, headaches, and severe fatigue are among the most prevalent symptoms.
"Other symptoms may include chest pain or tightness, brain fog, insomnia, dizziness, joint pain, depression and anxiety, tinnitus, loss of appetite, headaches, and changes to sense of smell or taste."
The experts added that the research could help policymakers plan local services and inform the wider public of the scale of the 'long Covid pandemic'.
While people are still suffering with long Covid, those who catch the virus are now mostly displaying cold and flu like symptoms.
That's due in part to the massive vaccine rollout, immunity from prior infection and the fact that Omicron has been found to be milder than other variants.
A previous study, published in September 2021 by experts in Italy also found an association between long Covid and those who are overweight and obese.
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The experts found that those who had a BMI over 25 had an increased risk of long Covid, with symptoms lasting for at least 35 days.
Another paper, published in November 2021 by experts at the University of Oxford also found that obesity is a major risk factor when it comes to the severity of Covid-19 infections.
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