As coronavirus deaths in America near 440,000, left uncounted are those who got COVID—and still suffer months, or nearly a year, later. It can strike anyone. “At this point we can’t determine the average age or predict who may have long-term symptoms,” family medicine provider Christopher Babiuch, MD tells the Cleveland Clinic about Long COVID, or Post-COVID Syndrome. Those who have it have been dubbed “long haulers.” “There is a mix of relatively young, healthy people who we’re seeing in this long-term group as well as older individuals.” Read on to see the most common symptoms according to physicians—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Regarding Post-COVID Syndrome, “long-lasting symptoms often include: coughing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, headaches, muscle aches and diarrhea,” says Dr. Babiuch. “But perhaps the most significant symptom that is being seen across the board in coronavirus long-haulers is fatigue. Oftentimes this group feels very run down and tired. They can’t exert themselves or exercise and simple tasks (like walking to the mailbox) will often leave them feeling exhausted. Chronic fatigue like we’re seeing in this group can be incredibly debilitating and frustrating.”
“Many long-haulers also report brain fog, difficultly concentrating or feel like they aren’t as sharp as they used to be,” says Dr. Babiuch. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says fatigue and brain fog make Post-COVID Syndrome “highly suggestive” of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
“Who I get are patients who two to three months later are still having shortness of breath, still having aches and pains, and maybe chest symptoms. Many of them are still on oxygen,” Dr. Dixie Harris, a pulmonologist at the Intermountain Healthcare hospital system in Utah, told Marketwatch.
Dr. Fauci called myalgia—muscle aches and pains—a common symptom of Post-COVID Syndrome. “They’re referred to as ‘long haulers.’ They have fatigue, myalgia, fever and involvement of the neurologic system, as well as cognitive abnormalities, such as the inability to concentrate,” Fauci has said.
“Dr. Michael Daignault, an emergency medicine physician with Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, says he sees many long haulers,” according to ABC7. “Having brain fog, like difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath especially when they’re trying to return to their workouts or exercise regimen, and just overall lack of energy, ” Dr. Daignault said. Headaches, too. “COVID is a very much a pro-inflammatory state,” Dr. Daignault explained.
“In addition, we found to our dismay that a number of individuals who have completely recovered and apparently are asymptomatic, when they have sensitive imaging technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, have found to have a disturbing number of individuals who have inflammation of the heart. These are the kind of things that tell us we must be humble that we do not completely understand the nature of this illness,” said Dr. Fauci.
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Long haulers are typically not sick with COVID but sick with COVID. “A number of individuals who virologically have recovered from infection, in fact have persistent—measured in weeks to months—of symptomatology that does not appear to be due to persistence of the virus,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in testimony before a Senate committee. Other symptoms besides those you’ve just read about can include these, according to the CDC:
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately. Doctors are still learning about the hows and whys of Post-COVID Syndrome and cannot cure it. But they can possibly relieve your symptoms with existing treatments. “I’m [also] aware of patients who consider themselves long haulers who have never (been) diagnosed positive for COVID. They feel they have it because they have the symptoms, the time frame, and all that,” said Dr. Harris. Indeed, there are many undocumented long haulers out there. Don’t let a lack of a COVID test deter you; listen to your body and seek help. 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.