The coronavirus pandemic may never be over for “long haulers”—the name for those who suffer from Post-Acute COVID Syndrome, or Long COVID. “As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health,” says the CDC. “While most persons with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from acute illness.” Read on to see if you have any of the “most commonly reported long-term symptoms”—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
You Might Feel Fatigue
The most common Long COVID symptom is a soul-sucking fatigue. “While most persons with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from acute illness,” says the CDC. “Even people who are not hospitalized and who have mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has compared Long COVID to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
You Might Have Shortness of Breath
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, so naturally, it can result in a shortness of breath. Caitlin Houston, a mother and blogger from Wallingford, spoke to NBC Connecticut: “I still have weird episodes where I’m dizzy out of nowhere or I get these headaches,” Houston said, and the station adds: “Houston said she also lost the senses of taste and smell and that she has had shortness of breath and fatigue for months.” “My biggest fear is that it’s going to come back to me and what is it going to do to my body then?” Houston said.
You Might Have a Cough
Surgery nurse Lisa Steffen was unable to go back to work after contracting Long COVID, she told DBR News. “You wouldn’t want your nurse coughing on you and short of breath,” Steffen said. “I just don’t have the energy yet so I have not tried it again.” Plus: “I could only make it three hours and I was just totally exhausted,” she said. “I could hardly walk, I was short of breath and my brain was tired. I was a mess.”
You Might Have Joint Pain
Dr. Fauci says Long Haulers suffer from “myalgia,” the medical term for muscle pain. Joint pain can also happen. COVID can inflame your body’s tissues and tendons. “Continued inflammation and over-reactive immune responses to the virus are among the possible etiological explanations for long-haul COVID-19,” reports Breakthroughs. “A study published in a recent issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases provides some support for this theory: researchers identified systemic autoantibodies (antibodies that mistakenly target the body’s own tissues) in nearly 70% of 29 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.”
You Might Have Chest Pain
A patient named Jen Singer has terrible chest pain, according to Breakthroughs: “Jen landed in the emergency room with pain beneath her ribs and shortness of breath. An electrocardiogram (EKG) revealed third-degree heart block, a heart rhythm abnormality that increases the risk of sudden cardiac death. Physicians implanted a pacemaker into Jen’s chest a few days later. The day after her surgery, she learned the results of her early April COVID-19 test: positive.”
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You Might Have These Other Symptoms:
“Other reported long-term symptoms include:
- Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Muscle pain
- Intermittent fever
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations),” says the CDC.
You Might Have These More Serious Symptoms
“More serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported. These have been noted to affect different organ systems in the body,” says the CDC. “These include:
- Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
- Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
- Renal: acute kidney injury
- Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
- Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
- Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood.”
“COVID-19 is still a new disease,” says the Bassett Healthcare Network. “So it’s not yet clear why some people recover relatively quickly and others don’t, the National Institutes of Health reports. Some scientists speculate that long-haulers could have a weak or abnormal immune reaction to the virus. The virus may have worsened underlying medical conditions—or caused new ones to develop. Some people could be experiencing reinfection, too.”
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How to Get Better From Long COVID
“The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known,” says the CDC. And doctors will tell you the same thing. There is no cure. However, doctors may be able to help you ease the symptoms though existing treatments. “CDC will continue active investigation and provide updates as new data emerge, which can inform COVID-19 clinical care as well as the public health response to COVID-19.” So call a medical professional, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.