How ‘long-haulers’ can cope with persistent COVID-19 symptoms


How ‘long-haulers’ can cope with persistent COVID-19 symptoms

As researchers continue to seek answers for what causes lingering COVID-19 symptoms, sufferers are eager to find relief.
Known as “long-haulers,” some patients continue to struggle with lingering COVID-19 symptoms such as joint paint, shortness of breath and fatigue weeks or months after their initial infections. Although there’s no cure for the condition, there are treatment options that can help with symptoms.
“We aren’t yet sure why some patients fully recover, while others are left with persistent symptoms,” says Dr. William Jackson Epperson, medical director of primary care at Tidelands Health. “Studies are underway to better understand the cause and determine who is most at risk.”

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It was first thought that prolonged COVID-19 symptoms were limited to people who became critically ill with the disease, but studies have found that even people with mild infections who are never hospitalized can experience persistent symptoms.

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Individuals who are struggling with lingering COVID-19 symptoms should consult with their primary care physician or another qualified provider, Dr. Epperson says. A physician can help patients rule out other possible causes and provide reassurance. Most lingering COVID-19 symptoms will eventually resolve.
“We’re here to help,” says Dr. Epperson, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Prince Creek. “We can help you monitor your symptoms, identify treatment options that may provide some relief and refer you to specialists if necessary.”
Other strategies that can also help people as they recover from COVID-19:

  • Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Continue to properly manage underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Avoid overdoing it when exercising.
  • Seek support if you’re feeling sad or depressed. In addition to professional counseling, there are a variety of online support groups available that can help long-haulers connect with each other.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member for help with errands if you need it.
  • Consider meditation and breathing techniques.
  • Stay hydrated.

“The good news is there’s hope for patients suffering with long COVID,” says Dr. Epperson. “We are seeing patients improve over time, and the more we learn about the virus’s long-term effects, the better prepared we will be going forward.”

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