Millions of Americans have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and many of them have recovered. However, in what is known as Long COVID, over one in five persons are still exhibiting symptoms months after infection.
While the majority of those infected with the virus only experienced mild to moderate cold or flu-like symptoms, others went on to experience cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and even neurological issues. For patients who experience the long-term impacts of the virus, there is no one explanation or even a clear definition that can be used; yet, for those whose symptoms are still present, the virus has entirely wrecked their lives.
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Theresa Samatia, a mother of two who stays at home, said, “I received COVID back in mid-2020 when it was really raising its head.” Samatia lives in New Jersey. “I instantly lost my sense of taste and smell and realized it was horrible. I still genuinely lack the ability to taste whatever I consume after more than two years. My physician believes it to be lengthy COVID.
Chicago-based marketing assistant Anne Claire Owens claimed to have developed COVID in December 2021 and to have terrible tiredness virtually daily. “I can have a good night’s sleep, go to work, and then within an hour feel like I need another full night’s sleep. Some days I want to scream because it’s so aggravating,” she remarked.
Long COVID: What is it?
The World Health Organization has classified long COVID as a “post COVID-19 condition” with “coronavirus symptoms that continue or reappear three months after a person gets unwell from infection.” However, there is still no clear, concise definition of long COVID. Additionally, the signs and symptoms remain for at least two months and are not corroborated by any other medical condition.
According to Dr. Soumi Eachempati, co-founder and CEO of CLEARED4 and former professor of surgery and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, “currently the most well accepted way for detecting lengthy COVID is by clinical history.” “A person who is regarded to have lengthy COVID typically has documented COVID and symptoms that lasted for longer than three months following the initial attack.”
Who is more susceptible to developing lengthy COVID?
According to recent research, those who have never received a vaccination, who have experienced severe COVID, or who have a history of preexisting medical conditions are more likely to experience long-term COVID.
“I can have a good night’s sleep, go to work, and then within an hour feel like I need another full night’s sleep. On certain days, it’s so annoying that I might cry.
More research is necessary, but some groups are already emerging as more sensitive, according to Dr. Monique May, who is also a Medical Advisor for Aeroflow Sleep. “People who have type 2 diabetes, high blood levels of the virus early in the infection, or specific antibodies that target healthy bodily tissues may be more susceptible to long-term COVID,” she said.
What signs are present?
According to Dr. Eachempati, symptoms can vary greatly and are organized by organ system. The most typical symptoms, according to him, may include dizziness, pains, weariness, rashes, or fever. “Neurological symptoms including difficulty concentrating, brain fog, migraines, needle and pin sensations, or changes in smell or taste are among the hardest to pinpoint. Less often experienced digestive issues include diarrhea and stomach pain.
Other signs include: -Cough -Heart palpitations or a rapid pulse -Shortness of breath
-Loss of flavor or scent
What you need to know whether you’ve had COVID or not.
Experts agree that maintaining good general health is essential to keeping oneself safe, even while it is impossible for them to conclude that those who have experienced repeated occurrences of COVID are more prone to acquire protracted COVID. Dr. May suggests:
Obtain all necessary immunizations and boosters.
Get a flu vaccination every year.
Eat at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, exercise frequently, and get enough sleep to be rested.
Maintain your social distance and stay away from busy indoor areas.
When inside or around others, use a mask.
Don’t interact with those who are clearly ill.
Use hand sanitizer or frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
Do not touch your face, particularly your lips and nose.
Being cautious and conscious of your body and any irregularities is essential for early detection and, ultimately, avoidance of serious sickness due to the newness of the virus and the lack of available research.
If you are worried that you could have lengthy COVID, Dr. May also advises speaking with your doctor. “Ask if it is feasible to be directed to a specialist or a medical center that treats COVID patients,” she advised. “Request to be taken into consideration for studies looking into extended COVID. Find a different doctor with whom you can collaborate on your healthcare if you feel that your current one is not listening to you or is not taking your concerns seriously.
Does vaccination aid in long-term COVID prevention?
It could. Despite the paucity of studies in this area, we do know that immunization can help lower the likelihood of COVID infection, therefore getting vaccinated can also lower your risk of long-term COVID.
Dr. Eachempati stated that it “may lessen both the likelihood of the original illness arising and its severity.” The development of protracted COVID, which tends to occur occasionally but not always in the more severe COVID patients, may be hampered by the latter reason.
What steps are being taken, and how are doctors planning for a future where COVID patients will last a long time?
Long COVID is a relatively new illness, although funding for studies has already started. The National Institutes of Health in the United States received a funding allocation of $1.15 billion to support research on the long-term effects of COVID. In order to treat and prevent long-term Covid effectively, the study aims to identify the underlying biological causes. The illness already has a recognized International Classification of Diseases code, according to Dr. Eachempati.
So now it has a diagnosis, he said. Scientists have already considered the possibility that some blood tests could serve as diagnostic tools for long-term COVID.
Navigating a health care system that is already overburdened and worn out might be challenging for doctors who are treating an increasing number of long-term COVID patients, but more solutions will become apparent as time goes on. More solutions also mean more approaches to treating long-term COVID sufferers.
According to Dr. May, COVID will likely be recognized as a chronic illness in its own right in the future. Long COVID will need to be managed, she added, and “ongoing research as well as both improved recognition and correct reporting of symptoms will play very important roles.”
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