Sure Signs You May Have Long COVID, Warn Experts
Long COVID can ruin a life.
Catching coronavirus is bad enough, but what if the symptoms never stop? Long COVID can affect anyone, and those it has are often called Long Haulers. "There's a variety of presentations that people can have. And this is ranging from those that were hospitalized to those that were even not hospitalized at all," says Dr. Natalia Covarrubias-Eckardt in a Providence presentation. Why? "We have no clue, so everybody's different and everyone's presentation is different, which is why this is a really interesting syndrome. Some people have that just for a couple of days. Some don't get it at all, whereas others are still fighting with it when they were first diagnosed back when the COVID first hit us. And we're still learning about why this happens. There are some theories that it's an immune response and inflammatory response, and some people have higher inflammatory responses to the virus than other patients, but we still don't know a hundred percent." What we do know are the symptoms. Read on to hear about 6 of them—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
You may have a crushing fatigue, or "just having decreased endurance and not being able to do their activities as they were before," says Dr. Covarrubias-Eckardt. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that PASC resembles chronic fatigue syndrome, aka CFS or myalgic encephalomyelitis. As you can guess from the name, the hallmark symptom is fatigue.
"When it comes to headaches, there has also been recent data — that was actually an interesting study that looked at long-term neurologic complications following COVID infections — and headache tends to be one of the most common long-term complications that we see after COVID," Dr. Emad Estemalik, a headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells WYTV.
Brain fog "can include short term memory, loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating, or just feeling different than they did before they had the infection," says Dr. Halena Gazelka of the Mayo Clinic. "As we've learned from a year of dealing with COVID-19, the signs and symptoms of viral and of the viral infection can vary widely from individual to individual. And that's true of the long-term effects as well." "Quite honestly, anybody can develop it," says Dr. Billie Schultz of the Mayo Clinic. "So they've looked at who is more likely to have these symptoms that linger, and maybe there's a trend toward if you're older or have other medical conditions going on, but honestly, anybody can, it doesn't depend doesn't necessarily depend on the severity of the COVID infection. It doesn't necessarily depend on the patient's age. It doesn't necessarily depend on their educational level. It can really be anybody that we see."
"The long lasting damage that we're seeing tends to be more in patients who had more severe respiratory issues. So people are having interstitial lung disease requiring ongoing management with pulmonology. We are seeing people who have myopathies or neuropathy. So those are damaged to muscle and nerves, and those ones are taking a lot longer to recover and still ongoing management is necessary. It's still fairly early on in the course, so we don't know how they're going to years out. But we are noticing that people are reaching a point where they may be stuck with these conditions lifelong," says Covarrubias-Eckardt.
One study in Nature found COVID may enter through your ear—and damage it, causing tinnitus or dizziness. "Viral infections are a common reason for hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction," it concludes. "A growing number of sensory symptoms have been linked to" COVID, including "new-onset of hearing loss, tinnitus and/or dizziness." Their findings "show that human and mouse inner ear cells have the molecular machinery to allow SARS-CoV-2 entry. We further show that SARS-CoV-2 can infect specific human inner ear cell types. Our findings suggest that inner ear infection may underlie COVID-19-associated problems with hearing and balance."
Long Haulers have reported everything from fainting to delirium. "Some people recover very quickly while others seem to suffer from for effects for quite a long period of time," says Dr. Gazelka. "I think you just need to trust your gut if you don't feel right. You may have some issues and ask your doctor for help and get referred," says Dr. Lindsay Fossatti.
"What about the post COVID conditions?" Dr. Anthony said this very week. Besides "multi-system inflammatory syndrome, there's also ongoing or residual symptoms and complications reported in children referred to as long COVID, which occurs in children, maybe to a lesser extent, about four to 6%, but nonetheless long COVID does occur in children." He mentioned these symptoms:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Cardiac involvement
- Anosmia and/or ageusia (changes to smell and taste)
- Neurodevelopmental impairment
- Cognitive fogginess or fatigue
- Physical fatigue/poor endurance
- Mental health/behavioral health sequelae
Contact a medical professional if you fear you have Long COVID. And protect yourself: "It's becoming clearer that we'll all be living in a Covid-19 reality for some time to come," wrote Professor Tim Spector in a Long COVID article on CNN. "We must continue to take steps that will keep cases low so that globally, we can limit the number of people who will have to live with Covid's long-term, life-limiting symptoms. Get vaccinated. Follow up with a booster shot."