There are several. To prevent hospitalization and death is the most important, but least likely. To prevent spreading it to family and friends is important and likely. But to prevent YOU from long-term side effects of COVID itself may be the most important.
By now you’ve likely heard the term “long haulers” used for COVID survivors who battle lingering symptoms for months after infection.
These folks can’t concentrate at work. They get out of breath crossing the street. They suffer from dizziness, insomnia, confusion, a racing heart, or a host of other lasting effects that keep them from getting back to their normal lives.
A study of hospitalized coronavirus patients, published in the journal The Lancet, offered an early look at just how prevalent and long-lasting the condition may be:
3 out of 4 COVID-19 patients still suffered from at least one symptom six months later.
The most common symptoms are:
- fatigue and muscle weakness, 63 percent of patients,
- sleep difficulties, 26 percent,
- diminished lung function and shortness of breath, 25 percent, and
- anxiety and depression, 23 percent.
Though continuing symptoms from COVID-19 affect the young and old alike, age does seem to play a role. The Lancet study found that the likelihood of a patient’s reporting fatigue or muscle weakness rose 17 percent for each 10-year increase in age.
Other symptoms at six months researchers conducting the Lancet study identified include:
- hair loss, 22 percent,
- smell disorder, 11 percent,
- taste disorder, 7 percent,
- heart palpitations, 9 percent,
- joint pain, 9 percent,
- dizziness, 6 percent, and
- chest pain, 5 percent.
The study didn’t assess the cognitive function of patients after six months, but other studies and doctors confirm that many post-COVID-19 patients experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating and a type of “brain fog” that makes it difficult to perform ordinary activities.
Even patients with mild cases are affected
The Lancet study looked only at patients who were hospitalized. The vast majority, however, did not need a ventilator or spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU), meaning they weren’t the most severe cases.
Now researchers are discovering that those who have only mild cases of the disease and are never hospitalized are also reporting long-term symptoms. Infectious disease specialists are reporting that this subgroup of COVID survivors are “a good chunk of (their) patients.”
The experts say this is not terribly surprising because after a similar coronavirus, called SARS, circulated in 2003, researchers found that 40 percent of SARS survivors had chronic fatigue symptoms more than three years after infection.
How do you prevent becoming a long-hauler?
It’s simple, get the COVID vaccine ASAP.
This blog was accurate as of the day of posting. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus and the COVID vaccine develops, the information above may have changed since it was last updated. While I aim to keep all of my blogs on COVID and the COVID vaccine up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.