Wednesday 10 August 2022

Long Covid sufferers seek treatment abroad but help may be at hand at home

Photo: DutchNews.nl

A controversial blood filtering method offered abroad to alleviate the symptoms of Long Covid will not be introduced in the Netherlands any time soon but there may possibilities for oxygen treatment, the Volkskrant reports.

Dutch Long Covid sufferers are increasingly turning to the expensive blood filtering treatment, which is normally used on patients with genetic high cholesterol to remove fatty matter from their blood, the paper said.

Dozens of Long Covid patients, whose symptoms can include the presence of small blood clots which impedes oxygen flow to organs, have reported improvement of their condition following blood filtering. However, thrombosis experts have said there is too little scientific evidence for the treatment.

Some 16 clinics, mostly in Germany, offer blood filtering at €1,300 for each of the six to eight sessions necessary, and waiting lists are long.

One treatment which may offer hope to Long Covid patients who do not have the money to travel abroad for expensive treatment involves patients breathing in pure oxygen.

There are 10 clinics in the Netherlands which offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, for which there is some scientific proof that it can help alleviate symptoms.

However, they cannot at the moment help Long Covid sufferers because the therapy is not a recognised treatment for them, and is therefore not included in any health insurance package.

Viable

Although doubts remain about the long term efficacy of the therapy, a commission which advises the government about Long Covid treatments has already said it considers the treatment to be viable.

The Dutch association for hyperbaric treatment is in talks with insurers and the Dutch care assessment agency Zorginstituut, which determines which treatments should be included in the basic healthcare package, to see if patients with Long Covid could be helped sooner rather than later.

Tens of thousands of people in the Netherlands are said to be suffering from Long Covid in the aftermath of an infection.

One in five

According to an estimate by public health institute RIVM one in five people experience Covid-related health problems, such as pain, fatigue and difficulty breathing, in the first four to five weeks after they have tested positive. That number falls after three months or more.

The institute is currently investigating the long term effects of Covid and is asking people to take part in the research.

The health ministry has also set up C-support, an organisation which helps people with Long Covid navigate problems related to (mental) health and work and income.

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