Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, Says CDC Report
We are now a year into COVID-19 hitting America and some Americans will soon be celebrating an anniversary, too: Living with Long COVID for a year. "These persistent symptoms pose new challenges to patients, healthcare providers, and public health practitioners," says the CDC. "While older patients may have an increased risk for severe disease, young survivors, including those physically-fit prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection, have also reported symptoms months after acute illness." Read on for the most common symptoms of Long COVID—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Have These Most Common Symptoms
"The most commonly reported symptoms include fatigue, dyspnea, cough, arthralgia, and chest pain," says the CDC. "Other reported symptoms include cognitive impairment, depression, myalgia, headache, fever, and palpitations. More serious complications appear to be less common but have been reported." Keep reading to discover what they are.
You May Have a Myocardial Inflammation
Your heart may become inflamed. "Myocarditis appears to result from the direct infection of the virus attacking the heart, or possibly as a consequence of the inflammation triggered by the body's overly aggressive immune response. And it is not age-specific," according to Scientific American.
You May Have a Ventricular Dysfunction
Heart damage has been found in some long haulers. In one study of "100 patients recently recovered from COVID-19 identified from a COVID-19 test center, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging revealed cardiac involvement in 78 patients (78%) and ongoing myocardial inflammation in 60 patients (60%), which was independent of preexisting conditions, severity and overall course of the acute illness, and the time from the original diagnosis," according to a study in JAMA.
You May Have Pulmonary Function Abnormalities
Your lungs can be damaged by COVID. "Recent studies reveal that the lung is the organ most affected by COVID-19, with pathologies that include diffuse alveolar epithelium destruction, capillary damage/bleeding, hyaline membrane formation, alveolar septal fibrous proliferation, and pulmonary consolidation," reports a study in European Respiratory Journal. "Previous studies have demonstrated that recovered patients with coronavirus pneumonia can be left with damaged lungs. Impaired lung function was common and could last for months or even years."
You May Have an Acute Kidney Injury
"Some people suffering with severe cases of COVID-19 are showing signs of kidney damage, even those who had no underlying kidney problems before they were infected with the coronavirus," says C. John Sperati, M.D., M.H.S. of Johns Hopkins. "The kidney damage is, in some cases, severe enough to require dialysis. Some hospitals experiencing surges of patients who are very ill with COVID-19 have reported they are running short on the machines and sterile fluids needed to perform these kidney procedures."
You May Have a Rash
"Patients presented with a broad spectrum of dermatologic manifestations lasting for different lengths of time, including hives (urticaria), lasting for median 5 days, and pernio/chilblains ("COVID toes"), lasting 15 days but sometimes as long as 130-150 days, and papulosquamous eruptions, which are scaly papules and plaques, persisting for 20 days," according to a new report.
You May Have Alopecia
Long haulers like actress Alyssa Milano have lost their hair. "While many people think of this as hair loss, it's actually hair shedding. The medical name for this type of hair shedding is telogen effluvium," according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. "It happens when more hairs than normal enter the shedding (telogen) phase of the hair growth lifecycle at the same time. A fever or illness can force more hairs into the shedding phase."
You May Have Olfactory and Gustatory Dysfunction
Patients who have COVID are known to lose their senses of taste and smell. For some, these never come back. "Some people whose senses do not return right away improve slowly over a long period — and this can have consequences, says Claire Hopkins, an ear, nose and throat consultant at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London," according to Nature. "As a person regains their sense of smell, odours often register as unpleasant and different from how they remembered them, a phenomenon called parosmia. 'Everything smells rancid' to these people, says Hopkins, and the effect can last for months. This might be because the olfactory sensory neurons are rewiring as they recover, she says."
You May Have Sleep Dysregulation
Insomnia, bad dreams, a difficulty falling asleep and feeling unrefreshed after sleep is common among long haulers. Along with brain fog and fatigue, "This effect is seen in a condition known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome," reports the Atlantic. "The diagnosis encompasses myriad potential symptoms, and likely involves multiple types of cellular injury or miscommunication. In some cases, damage comes from prolonged, low-level oxygen deprivation (as after severe pneumonia). In others, the damage to nerve-cell communication could come by way of inflammatory processes that directly tweak the functioning of our neural grids."
You May Have Altered Cognition, or "Brain Fog"
"An alteration in mental status refers to general changes in brain function, such as confusion, amnesia (memory loss), loss of alertness, disorientation (not cognizant of self, time, or place), defects in judgment or thought, unusual or strange behavior, poor regulation of emotions, and disruptions in perception," says MedicineNet.
You May Have Memory Impairment
"Problems concentrating, coming up with words and names, multitasking and organizing, are all brain-related symptoms associated with COVID-19 infections. Bay Area doctors are trying to understand why," according to ABC 7. "I'd go into a room and I didn't remember why I was there," said Diego Ruspini. "My memory has gotten so much worse, especially short term memory," said Natalia Ruspini.
You May Have Depression and Anxiety and Changes in Mood
"Even people who were never sick enough to go to a hospital, much less lie in an ICU bed with a ventilator, report feeling something as ill-defined as "Covid fog" or as frightening as numbed limbs," according to STAT. "They're unable to carry on with their lives, exhausted by crossing the street, fumbling for words, or laid low by depression, anxiety, or PTSD. As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections, experts told STAT, reflecting a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain."
What to Do If You Experience These Symptoms
There is no cure for Long COVID yet—but doctors can help treat some symptoms—like headaches or sleep issues—with existing medications or natural remedies. Support groups like the ones at Body Politic are also a valuable resource. Get the help you need, 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.