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The Scariest Signs You Already Had COVID

These long hauler symptoms are some of the most severe.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The majority of those infected with COVID-19 survive, and a small percentage die. However, there is a third group of people who live through the virus, but never fully recover from it. Long hauler syndrome, aka post-COVID syndrome, is a chronic version of the virus impacting anywhere from 10 to 80 percent of those infected. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and impact any organ. Shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell and taste and fatigue are just a few of the 100-plus manifestations of the condition that this group of people are suffering, per the Long Hauler Survey, one of the most extensive bodies of published research on the condition conducted by Natalie Lambert, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor of Biostatistics, Indiana University. And, of all the ailments, she explains to Eat This, Not That! Health, there are a few that are the most troubling. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


You May Have Neurological Symptoms

Doctor attentively examines the MRI scan of the patient.

According to Dr. Lambert, the neurological impacts of long hauler symptoms are some of the most troubling. "They impact people's ability to function the most and they're also the scariest for people to experience," she explains.


You May Have Cognitive Deficits

Man hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness,a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway

One of the trademark symptoms of the long hauler is "brain fog" or memory problems. "For some people that could be where they just can't think or function the way that they used to," Dr. Lambert reveals. "People who just can't think anymore, or remember words anymore, or people who write as part of their work and they're not able to write anymore."


You May Lose the Ability to Walk

unrecognized young asian woman had pain at calves sitting on couch at home

According to Dr. Lambert's studies, some people experience "their limbs going numb" and they lose basic functions, including the ability to walk. 


You May Have Headaches…That Won't Quit

Stressed unhappy woman touching forehead, suffering from strong headache or chronic migraine

The majority of people experience a headache on occasion, but for long haulers, the head pressure is so extreme that they can't even get out of bed or function normally. As part of her studies, Dr. Lambert asked long haulers about the symptoms that impacted their ability to work. "Headaches are a huge one," she reveals. "That's something we're not talking about enough. Headaches and brain pressure are incredibly painful and difficult to deal with. And there aren't many good solutions for people who have that."


Treatment Options Are Limited

Stressed male doctor sat at his desk. Mid adult male doctor working long hours. Overworked doctor in his office. Not even doctors are exempt from burnout

One thing that makes these neurological symptoms the scariest, is that doctors don't know how to treat them. "We don't have medical treatments or therapies that will get rid of those problems yet," she admits. 

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors


What to Do If You Are a Long Hauler

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

If you believe you might be a long hauler, there are a variety of steps you can take to be proactive about your health. If you have a primary doctor, contact them. You can also work with specialists or see if there is a post-COVID clinic near you. Dr. Lambert also suggests joining one of the online community support groups—such as Survivor Corps—where others share their personal experiences and offer advice.  Also, continue to protect your health as well as that of others—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah