The Long-haul Effects of COVID-19
Some people may feel that Covid-19 is a relatively minor illness as we hear so much about people getting the disease but quickly recovering. We also hear of the very low percentage of people that get seriously ill. However, seriously ill is not a necessary condition with all Covid-19 cases. Even though a low percentage of the US population may die as a result of acquiring the SARS-Cov-2 virus, most people who catch it might not experience any symptoms at all... at first. But what about the effects that come after?
Let's look into the growing body of knowledge detailing what is being described as the "long-haul" effects of having COVID-19. As well as why this can affect you, even if you were asymptomatic.
What is "post-COVID Syndrome" and what causes it?
Post-COVID syndrome (also referred to as long-haul symptoms, long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-term effects of COVID, or chronic COVID) is a group of symptoms that impact those infected with COVID-19 long after they recover from the virus. The effects of this virus generally only last about 2 weeks, and then after infection, most people go on to live perfectly normal lives.
But a small number of people either never lose certain symptoms or later develop new symptoms, some of which can be debilitating. These symptoms can manifest even if the infected person experienced mild symptoms, or even if they were asymptomatic.
In the article that I wrote concerning natural immunity and vaccines, I discuss the topic of long-haul symptoms. I mainly mention it in the realm of what has been coined the "late effects of polio" and the effects it had on the population. The reason I discussed this is to compare it to COVID-19 since they are similar in both the symptoms, as well as the latency of the effects.
While the late effects of polio may not be felt until up to 15 years after contracting the disease, long COVID may start to experience these symptoms as early as a few weeks after being infected. These effects have been known to last for over a year as of writing this article. It is not yet known if these symptoms will ever go away.
Of the people admitted to the ICU with COVID-19, 49% still experienced at least 1 ongoing symptom at 12 months past recovery. This means that tens of millions of people in the world can be seriously impacted as a result of this infection. A study published in July of 2021 by the Epic Health Research Network showed that of those diagnosed with this virus, almost 1 in 10 (9.4%) suffer from symptoms after recovery.
However, a new study published on September 28th in the journal PLOS looked at data from nearly 300,000 COVID survivors. The researchers concluded that 57% of people experienced symptoms up to 6 months after getting infected, with 37% experiencing symptoms between 3 to 6 months post-infection. Here is a video below of retired bariatric surgeon Dr. Duc C. Vuong explaining the results.
The reason this occurs can be due to a ton of different factors, such as developing PTSD after being admitted to the ICU. As well as COVID-19 causing damage to the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, liver, etc. More research is needed to figure out exactly why these symptoms occur, and whether there is a cure for them.
That said, it has been noted by the AMA that people who develop long-COVID may recover from the symptoms after becoming vaccinated. More research is needed for this, but it is interesting to think about.
That being said, what exactly are these symptoms?
What are the symptoms of post-COVID syndrome?
Being sick is a dreadful ordeal that can make you feel fatigued, sluggish, and as if your brain is full of cotton. It is rare that your annual cold will leave you that way for months or years down the line. However, this isn't uncommon with people who have been infected with COVID-19, who may experience debilitating symptoms for months. Some symptoms of long-COVID include:
Joint and Muscle pain
Change in smell or taste
and many more
People who have suffered from severe bouts of COVID-19 might even have to deal with a variety of other issues as well, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain function issues. These autoimmune conditions can last for weeks or even months after recovery.
Damage to the lungs, for instance, can cause difficulty breathing as it can take months or longer for your body to fully recover from a bout of severe COVID-19.
These symptoms mainly manifest in adults, but can also manifest in adolescents and even young children who had mild or no symptoms. These symptoms are severe enough to prevent many children and teenagers from being able to attend school and prevent many adults from being able to properly work.
What can be done to prevent the effects of long-COVID?
The main thing that can be done is to not catch COVID-19 in the first place. So some easy things to do that will help reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 are:
Get a COVID-19 vaccine
Wear a multi-layered face mask, either a medical mask or cotton cloth
Don't go to gatherings, avoid crowds, and stay 6 feet away from others if you do not live with them
Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands often!
While it is currently unknown how long these symptoms will last, physical therapy, breathing exercises, medications, and more have been able to help people who are suffering. Hopefully, more treatments may be discovered soon that will help people who are suffering; but until then, it is best to take preventative measures.
You can find out more about the symptoms of long COVID by checking out this video below: