Long COVID Symptoms and Treatment: What You Need to Know
The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic affected people from all walks of life. For the past two and a half years, everyone put their lives on hold, from postponing weddings to canceling vacations, to protect themselves from the virus. However, medical care has come a long way in the treatment of acute COVID-19 infections. Through widespread vaccinations and better prevention methods, we are finally getting ahead of this disease.
Unfortunately, some patients that experience COVID-19 live with side effects long after the infection period has passed. The CDC refers to this as Long COVID or Post-COVID, amongst other names. These symptoms make catching the COVID-19 virus even more dangerous, as some patients can spend months or years recovering from the illness. Learn more about Long COVID and your treatment options.
Long COVID is Still a Threat With the Omicron Variant
Virus variants change over time. At present, the Omicron subvariant is dominant in the United States. This virus is highly transmissible but causes a milder disease and results in milder symptoms. Despite the reduced risk of severe symptoms, it is still just as likely to leave patients with long COVID as the previous variants before it. Anywhere from 10% to 30% of patients can experience long COVID after catching this disease.
If you experience lingering symptoms after a COVID-19 infection, you may have long COVID. The CDC defines this illness as, “a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Essentially, you may experience side effects from the virus that linger for long periods of time – and you might even develop new ones. Even people who did not experience symptoms when they tested positive for COVID-19 can develop side effects more than four weeks after the virus has passed through them. These side effects can make it hard to participate in your favorite hobbies or even complete basic day-to-day tasks without feeling exhausted or breathless.
What Causes Long COVID?
While researchers are still learning about this disease, the proposed theory is that Long COVID is the result of cell damage caused by the virus. Even when the patient no longer tests positive, they may experience side effects and develop issues related to the disease. Patients who have Long COVID often fall into three categories:
- People who do not recover completely and have ongoing symptoms as a direct result of the virus.
- People with symptoms are related to chronic hospitalization – especially when someone requires ICU admission. Long COVID can develop in people who remain bedbound for weeks due to the illness or complications from the disease.
- People whose symptoms appear after they recover.
Long COVID symptoms will vary in severity. Some people might need to slow down when doing their favorite activities while others will need to temporarily stop them entirely until they recover. At present, women are more at risk for Long COVID symptoms than men.
What Are the Symptoms of Long COVID?
Most, if not all, organ systems can be attacked by the COVID-19 virus. This means Long COVID symptoms can vary from person to person. However, the most common Long COVID complaints include fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and brain fog – all of which can be worsened after physical activity. Patients can also experience a persistent loss of taste and smell.
There are a few additional ways that Long COVID affects the body. You may experience:
- Heart-associated symptoms like palpitations and bradycardia (slowed heartbeat)
- Respiratory system manifestations, including shortness of breath, a burning sensation in the lungs, wheezing, worsening or newly developed asthma symptoms, persistent cough, chest tightness and pain, and decreased exercise tolerance
- Gastrointestinal complaints, including loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps
- Renal complications resulting in acute kidney injury. Someone with chronic kidney disease may need long-term dialysis after catching COVID-19
- Blood system complications, like the development of blood clots
- Skin conditions like hair loss and rashes
You likely won’t develop all of these symptoms if you have Long COVID. However, you may experience varied symptoms that affect different parts of your body. By reporting all of your symptoms to your doctor, they can discover which conditions are related and come up with an accurate diagnosis.
Should You Seek Medical Attention for Long COVID?
Listen to your body. If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention for Long COVID. An expert pulmonologist will be able to determine if you have Long COVID or a similar condition that mimics it. Many known conditions might seem like Long COVID at first, when they might actually be another illness that your immune system is fighting against. Your doctor will rule out these other potential factors before providing a Long COVID diagnosis.
Can You Prevent Long COVID?
If you catch the COVID-19 virus, there is no guaranteed way to prevent Long COVID. However, you can reduce your risk of severe side effects by getting vaccinated and boosted against the disease. Patients who are vaccinated are 50% less likely to develop Long COVID symptoms. For those who do, their symptoms are milder and are more likely to clear up faster. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even though some patients may experience breakthrough infections.
Help is Available if You Have Long COVID Symptoms
You are not alone, many people are suffering from Long COVID and have similar symptoms. They are seeking help from medical professionals and taking steps to regain their health. Lyracore Health Alliance is here for all patients to receive comprehensive, compassionate care and support.
While the best minds in the field of medicine are working to find better treatment options for Long COVID, patients can turn to Lyracore to treat their symptoms with the latest technology and most effective treatments possible.
The best way to avoid Long COVID is to fight the spread of this virus through vaccination. When everyone who can get vaccinated does, we are able to limit the development of additional variants and reduce the impact of this disease in our society.