5 Sure Signs of "Long COVID," Says New Study
Just because the COVID-19 pandemic is nearing its end in America doesn't mean COVID is "over." For some people, they will have symptoms long after everyone else has gone back to "normal." A new study from Stanford Medicine, published in JAMA, found "that COVID-19 symptoms commonly persisted beyond the acute phase of infection, with implications for health-associated functioning and quality of life." Those who suffer them have "Long COVID" and are called "Long Haulers."
"More than 70% of COVID-19 patients in studies — most of whom were hospitalized — reported 84 different symptoms and signs months after they became ill," write the authors, Tahmina Nasserie, MPH; Michael Hittle, BS; and Steven N. Goodman, MD, MHS, Ph.D. "It is not like the flu. When you recover from COVID, there is a certain percentage of people, and it's not that small, are going to continue to have symptoms. And we're going to have to figure out how to care for them and how to treat them," Goodman said. "If something on the order of 70% of those coming out of moderate to serious COVID-19 are showing persisting symptoms, that is a huge number. It's astonishing how many symptoms are part of what's now being referred to as long COVID," he added. Read on to see if you have any of the "most common" symptoms—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID And Should Tell Your Doctor.
You May Feel Fatigue
About 40% of patients said they experienced fatigue, say the researchers. And for most Long Haulers, this isn't just a feeling of sleepiness, which can be solved by a quick snooze. "You could sleep all night and wake up feeling as if you have not gone to bed at all," said one, a formerly fit 44 year old male who was not involved in the study. "Maybe you could deal with that once in a while. But it's happened to me every night for a year. It's called 'unrefreshed sleep' and it's one of the many horrors of Long COVID for some."
You May Have Shortness of Breath
36% said they experienced shortness of breath. "The numbers are very shocking, especially for fatigue and shortness of breath," Nasserie said. "These were pretty debilitating symptoms, with some people reporting difficulty walking up a flight of stairs."
You May Have Exhaustion
Many Long Haulers have post-exertional malaise, something those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis suffer. "If I do something you'd find easy, like take a long walk or move a few boxes, my body crashes 24-48 hours later," says the 44-year-old. "This exhaustion can be accompanied by a migraine and/or nausea as well."
You May Have Sleep Problems
29% said they experienced sleep disorders. Besides unrefreshed sleep, this can also include insomnia, vivid dreams or vivid nightmares. COVID can disturb the neurological pathways, making simple tasks difficult, including the most natural ones, like bedtime.
You Might Also Have These Symptoms
"Depression and anxiety, along with general pain and discomfort, were also relatively common: About 20% of patients described these symptoms. An inability to concentrate, commonly referred to as 'brain fog,' was mentioned by about 25% of patients," say the authors. That's just the tip of the iceberg; patients themselves have described 98 symptoms of Long COVID and you can read about each one right here.
What to Do if You Have Long COVID aka PASC
There is no cure for Long COVID, or PASC—yet; research has been funded. But doctors can try right now to help alleviate your symptoms. Call one and see if your area has a post-COVID center with specialized care. And to get through life at your healthiest, Don't Take This Supplement, Which Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.