I'm a Doctor and Here Are Signs You May Have Long COVID
The Long COVID syndrome is vaguely described and poorly understood. Generally, the entity reflects that someone has symptoms lasting over two months that occur three months after having suffered a case of COVID-19. Long COVID has been seen all over the world from each variant of the virus that causes SARS-CoV2. Over 200 symptoms have been noted in cases of Long COVID. Up to 10% of all COVID patients may develop this and many individuals cannot work or function after suffering from this syndrome. Some researchers are not convinced that all the cases of Long COVID represent the same syndrome. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
This may be the common symptom ascribed to Long COVID. Afflicted individuals describe being unable to think and more sophisticated testing may reflect true cognitive impairment. Other traits of brain fog include memory impairment and difficulty focusing attention.
One of the most common symptoms attributed to Long COVID are headaches which can vary in scope and intensity. Sometimes these headaches may be daily and persistent. They have been described in some individuals who only had a mild case of COVID. The treatment can be complex and ranges from OTC meds to more formalized approaches including psychological and physical rehabilitation approaches.
The fatigue from Long COVID is multifactorial and can be challenging to treat. This symptom may be primary from the syndrome but also secondary from the impaired sleep that occurs with Long COVID or the other debilitating symptoms. This fatigue of Long COVID can cause impaired exercise tolerance or severe inability to function. Many clinicians have considered that this symptom of Long COVID is related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Nausea and Diarrhea
Many GI symptoms have been described in Long COVID. Researchers think these occur because the virus can become lodged in the GI tract where it can become latent. The symptoms can be upper or lower in the GI tract. In the upper tract, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, or loss of appetite can occur. In the lower GI tract, the symptoms can include a hypermotility state or diarrhea. Abdominal pain can occur in either of these locations. The treatment is generally geared at the individual symptoms and should also include attention to prevention of dehydration.
Shortness of Breath And Other Cardiopulmonary Symptoms
The shortness of breath with Long COVID or any persistent symptoms related to the lungs or heart after COVID can be extremely concerning. In addition to signifying the possibility of major lung scarring and loss of function from the COVID infection, it can also mean that severe heart damage occurred with the COVID attack. Other symptoms of Long COVID with lung infection include persistent cough, chest tightness, heart palpitations, and occasionally chest pain. All of these are potentially serious and can indicate severe heart or lung damage.
Muscle or Joint Aches
Pain occurring in the joints or muscles can occur months after COVID infection and are among the most common symptoms of Long COVID. These symptoms vary greatly in scope and intensity. The main treatment is to rule out another cause of the pain and then to provide adequate pain relief in a preferably non-narcotic methodology to the suffering individual.
Depression or Anxiety
Long COVID is estimated to add an extra 53 million people with major depressive disorders and 76 million people with anxiety disorders to the global population. The etiology of these disorders is multifactorial and can occur from primary neurological damage or secondary effects such as sleep deprivation, post-traumatic stress, and the strain of resuming normalcy after a possibly severe infection. Additionally, since so many COVID patients have had ill family members and other types of loss, other issues of profound grief can compound these symptoms.
Ear, Nose, and Throat Symptoms
Many symptoms of the head and neck appear in Long COVID. The etiology of these symptoms is thought to be either the virus infecting the upper pharynx or direct inflammation into neurological tissues in the brain itself. Symptoms include earaches, ringing in the ears, or sore throat. Early in the pandemic a persistent loss of taste or smell was noted in COVID patients but these symptoms are seen less in the Omicron variant.
Multiple skin or dermatological abnormalities have been described with Long COVID. The most common ones include urticaria reactions which are raised itchy small bumps, areas of discolorations, and blisters. Other skin manifestations associated with Long COVID include discoloration of the toes which can persist for months.
Blood Sugar Abnormalities
Multiple studies have suggested that the likelihood of diabetes has increased after having been infected with COVID. Several reasons why this can occur have been suggested including the creation of insulin resistance or damage to the pancreas. As more long term information around COVID is studied, the development of new onset diabetes may eventually become the biggest issue surrounding Long COVID. 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.
Dr. Soumi Eachempati is a former Professor of Surgery and Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College where he worked from 1998-2017. Among his many accolades, Dr. Eachempati was also the Director of both the Surgical ICU as well as Trauma at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Center. He also received an appointment in the Division of Public Health. Dr. Eachempati is a Co-Founder and CEO of Cleared4Work.