COVID-19 “long-haulers” struggle to return to normal

COVID-19 “long-haulers” struggle to return to normal

Tired woman staring out window.

Although most people with COVID-19 appear to recover completely within a week or two, that’s not the case for everyone.
Research shows some COVID-19 patients suffer from lingering symptoms weeks or months after their initial battles with the disease. In a multistate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of patients who had tested positive for COVID-19, 35 percent reported that they were still not feeling back to normal 14-21 days after their positive test. 
“This is still a new virus, and we are still learning about the long-term health implications of infection,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs for Tidelands Health. “What’s clear, however, is that COVID-19 isn’t just a respiratory illness but can have continued effects on the heart, brain and other major organs.”

Lingering symptoms

In the CDC study of so-called COVID-19 “long-haulers,” patients with lingering symptoms described continued struggles with joint pain, brain fog, headaches and fatigue weeks after the onset of illness. Others mentioned a persistent loss of sense of smell, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat.

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More serious long-term effects, such as heart inflammation, kidney injury and neurological complications have also been reported following COVID-19 infection.
The CDC survey found that prolonged illness was evident even among younger adults without underlying chronic medical conditions. One in five of people ages 18-34 reported they weren’t back to normal health 14-21 days after testing positive.
“Multi-year studies are underway to better understand why some people struggle with long-term symptoms, and who is most at risk,” Dr. Harmon says. “Even people with mild infections who are never hospitalized can experience persistent symptoms.”

Protect yourself, others

Dr. Harmon says the risk of long-term effects from infection is one of many reasons people need to continue to be vigilant to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Harmon says. “We can’t let our guard down – continue to wear a mask in public, avoid large crowds and practice social distancing.
“By working together, we can one day put an end to this pandemic and return to our normal way of life.”

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