Dr. Fauci Warns These COVID Symptoms May Never Go Away
Your coronavirus could last a week—or you could have symptoms that never go away. "We do know that there's an unusual syndrome called post-acute COVID syndrome, or PACS," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Duke University lecture and Q+A this week. It's also known as Long COVID and its sufferers are known as Long Haulers. "We are studying this intensively, with cohort studies because a certain percentage…of people who have symptomatic disease—whether they've been hospitalized or not—have lingering symptoms for variable periods of time after the virus is cleared from the body. So they're no longer infected, but they have a constellation of signs and symptoms that are pretty consistent, and they are…" the following. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Feel "Extreme Fatigue"
Dr. Fauci has compared PACS to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis—an illness whose symptoms include fatigue, of course, but also headaches, and "brain fog," which you'll read about shortly. There is no cure for ME/CFS, just as there is no cdukeure for PACS. In fact, research has been severely underfunded for years, according to Adriane Tillman of #MeAction, a leading ME/CFS group. "The bottom line is that research funding for ME/CFS is absurdly deficient," she says. "If you add up all the funding that the NIH has allocated to ME/CFS research over the past two decades, it wouldn't even reach the total amount that the NIH should be spending in one year on ME/CFS based on the disease burden (the number of people who are sick and the effect on the quality-of-life)."
You May Have Muscle Aches
Dr. Fauci has mentioned long haulers can suffer "myalgia." These aches and pains can appear anywhere on your body, and can be frightening. One long hauler felt he was having a heart attack, but it was in fact an inflammation of his rib cartilage, called costochondritis. Then for three months, his mid-back was constricted. Now, a year on, he gets shooting pains in his arm, which he mistakes for angina.
You May Have a "Sleep Disorder"
"I don't get much sleep," the hard-working Dr. Fauci has said in the past. Long haulers know the feeling. They can be kept up by insomnia, vivid dreams, nightmares, and even hallucinations. Some of these feelings can be attributed to the understandable anxiety, depression or PTSD that accompanies chronic illness. Additionally, the coronavirus has been proven in studies to cause neurological issues that can lead to disrupted sleep.
You May Have Temperature Dysregulation
"…where they feel chilly, or they feel they're not regulating their temperature properly," said Dr. Fauci about patients who have this.
You Have Brain Fog
Long haulers may walk into a room and forget why they entered, or forget the name of their favorite actor, or make a cup of tea…next to one they forgot they just made. "Some of them have something which is referred to as brain fog," says Dr. Fauci, "which means they have difficulty in focusing or concentrating. We do not know what the pathogenic mechanisms of this are, or what it is that we can do about it, but it appears to be a real syndrome." Brain fog is a hallmark symptom of ME/CFS, which is one reason Dr. Fauci has made that comparison.
What to Do If You Suffer From PACS
PACS is happening to at least 10% of those who get COVID, estimates Fauci—but that doesn't make it any easier to treat. "The bottom line is that there is a crisis in clinical care. It is extremely difficult to find a doctor who can diagnose or treat ME," says Tillman. Right now, doctors are addressing the symptoms of long COVID, not the overall syndrome. Nonetheless, contact your medical professional if you feel any of the symptoms you've just read about, 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.