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7 Signs You Have Delta Infection Damage

COVID can cause long-term problems.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

You have been hearing about the rise in COVID deaths and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant, but what you may have missed is that there is one malady left uncounted: It's called Long COVID, or PASC, a syndrome that can last for more than a year, maybe a lifetime, after even a mild COVID infection. A groundbreaking new study in The Lancet, published on Thursday, identified "one-year outcomes" in people who still had problems. "Our data suggest that a full recovery after 1 year is not possible for some patients, for whom it will take longer to attain their baseline health state before COVID-19," say the authors. Read on for 7 common signs of lasting COVID danage—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


You May Feel Profound Fatigue

Woman suffering from stomach cramps on the sofa at home.

A life-crushing fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom among "long haulers," or people with Long COVID. "The cause and pathogenesis of fatigue and muscle weakness after COVID-19 are unclear, but on the basis of previous evidence in SARS, lung diffusion capacity impairment and some extrapulmonary causes, including viral-induced myositis at initial presentation, cytokine disturbance, muscle wasting and deconditioning, or corticosteroids myopathy, or a combination of these factors, could have contributed to the condition," propose the authors of the study.


You May Have Trouble Moving Around or "Post-Exertional" Malaise

Asian women and stiff shoulders

Given that Long COVID comes with aches and pains, it's no surprise that you may have trouble with mobility. What is harder to pinpoint for yourself, however, is why you may have "post-exertional malaise." This is when your body reacts to any kind of exertion—it could be exercise, it could be household chores—with a feeling of illness. "We saw some abnormalities in some white blood cells called monocytes," sayd Dr. Bruce Patterson, a researcher into Long COVID. "We looked further and we found the one protein in monocytes, 15 months after infection, with no virus. There's no RNA, there's no replication competence….Yet the cells carried a COVID protein all over the body and caused inflammation….The cells are mobilized by exercise and to a person long haulers have exercise intolerance."


You May Have Severe Headaches or Migraines

man massaging nose bridge, taking glasses off, having blurry vision or dizziness

Dr. Patterson has described Long COVID as a vascular issue for many, and if you think about where your blood vessels are—basically everywhere!—you can imagine why people complain of aches and pains. One frequent complaint is about crushing headaches or migraines; some of these even seen to change the brain's chemistry and can be linked to anxiety and depression.


You May Have Trouble Breathing

Senior woman having breathing difficulties

"The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a briefing. "It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career." No wonder it can do severe damage to your lungs. Some of this damage can last longer than a year.

RELATED: These States Are Seeing a Huge Rise in Delta Hospitalizations


You May Have Anxiety or Depression

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

You may feel anxious after reading this story. But there is also a neurological reason many long haulers feel anxious or depressed. Besides receiving what may be a diagnosis for a chronic illness that may last a lifetime, their body is in "flight or flight" mode, battling off a real or perceived virus (doctors don't know yet). "The chronic or late-onset psychological symptoms after COVID-19 could be driven by a direct effect of virus infection and might be explained by several hypotheses including aberrant immune response, hyperactivation of the immune system, or autoimmunity. Additionally, indirect effects including reduced social contact, loneliness, incomplete recovery of physical health, and loss of employment could affect psychiatric symptoms," say the study's authors.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Be Back to "Normal"


You Could Have Cardiovascular Issues

Woman in grey clothes is holding hands on her chest.

"COVID-19 survivors are at increased risk of psychiatric outcomes, and new-onset respiratory and cardiovascular disease during convalescence," say the study's authors. COVID can be very hard on the heart. "There are several reasons for this. The cells in the heart have angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors where the coronavirus attaches before entering cells. Heart damage can also be due to high levels of inflammation circulating in the body. As the body's immune system fights off the virus, the inflammatory process can damage some healthy tissues, including the heart," says Johns Hopkins.

RELATED: I'm a Doctor and Here's How to Not Catch Delta


You Could Have Any of More than 200 Symptoms

woman coughing into elbow while lying down on sofa in the living room.

More than 200 Long COVID symptoms have been reported—everything from fainting to sleep difficulties to hair loss. Ask yourself if your body feels "not right" after your COVID infection—or possible infection. Does it feel like something has systematically been altered? If so, tell a medical professional. There is no Long COVID cure but doctors can try to treat your symptoms. Even better is to do everything you can to never get COVID in the first place. Get vaccinated, 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek