Most people can get over COVID within a few weeks of feeling ill and contracting the virus and experience common symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, headache, sore throat, fever and chills, fatigue, and shortness of breath. However, medical experts have recently learned that with some people, symptoms last longer and can experience different health issues as a result. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D. Professor of Public Health New Mexico State University who explained what Long COVID is and sings you may have it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
What is Long COVID?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions. These conditions can present as different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.”
Dr. Khubchandani says, “Until recently, there was no international consensus on diagnosis, definition, or treatment guidelines for Long COVID. However, one of the first clinical and working definitions was recently proposed by the World Health Organization. It was suggested that Long COVID-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.”
Diagnosing Long COVID
Dr. Khubchandani explains, “Interestingly, there is no required number of symptoms to label a person as having Long COVID. Also, symptoms may fluctuate a lot and may not necessarily be seen in the acute initial phase of the infection (i.e. emerge later). This makes the diagnosis, treatment, and defining a challenge — it could be an evolving situation for patient care and for those who had the infection.”
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Long COVID Symptoms
“While fever goes away, Long COVD is characterized by fatigue, general body weakness and malaise, shortness of breath may continue as most common symptoms,” Dr. Khubchandani states. “Headaches, body aches, and may also be seen commonly. Studies show that the majority of the patients will have more than one symptom.”
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Dr. Yoram Harth, Board Certified Dermatologist, Medical Director of MDhair says, “A significant number of people that had COVID report increased hair shedding (Telogen effluvium). For most people, it appears 45-60 after they have COVID and lasts for 3- 6months. In people with a genetic tendency to have female or male pattern hair loss, COVID-related hair thinning can lead to permanent hair. It is believed that post-COVID hair loss is caused by the reduced oxygen flow to the scalp, inflammation, and stress associated with the disease. Using a combination of scalp stimulating serum and shampoo combined with hair supplements and collagen peptides is believed to help restart hair regrowth and prevent progression to long-term female or male pattern hair thinning.”
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Issues Long COVID Can Cause
Dr. Khubchandani reveals, “Psychiatric problems are also being discussed as one of the most common sequelae of COVID infections, with depression and anxiety being the most common psychiatric issues in the infection survivors. 1-30% of individuals report having anxiety and depression symptoms as a part of Long COVID. A very high dimensional characterization of more than 75,000 adult Americans who were infected were studied recently for several hundred types of diagnoses after infection. Broadly, it can be said that Long COVID has three symptom categories- respiratory symptoms, symptoms from other body organs (e.g. metabolic, gastrointestinal, nervous system, and others), and general worsening of quality of life as an indicator.”
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According to the Mayo Clinic, “Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can also damage many other organs, including the heart, kidneys and the brain. Organ damage may lead to health complications that linger after COVID-19 illness. In some people, lasting health effects may include long-term breathing problems, heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis.
Some adults and children experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome after they have had COVID-19. In this condition, some organs and tissues become severely inflamed.”
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.