Some of the symptoms of prolonged illness caused by the coronavirus are chronic fatigue, clouded thinking, insomnia, heart problems and difficulty breathing. VOA correspondent Lesia Bakalets describes what prolonged COVID really is and how doctors in America are treating it.
After getting over COVID-19, many people complain of persistent symptoms for months.
According to a report by the nonprofit FAIR Health, about 15-20% of those infected with the virus continue to have symptoms months later.
14-year-old Seaenna from Cleveland got sick with COVID about a year ago.
“When my sense of smell came back, it was completely different, as if transformed. Regular meals give me the taste of burning rubber band. A strange scent,” she says.
Doctors call this long recovery period “prolonged COVID”. The World Health Organization calls the period “post-COVID”.
“It occurs in individuals who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, usually about three months later. With symptoms that are noticeable for at least three months after infection with the coronavirus and last for at least another two months and that cannot be explained by another diagnosis,” says Janet Diaz, from the World Health Organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes 18 common symptoms, including cough, headaches, breathing problems, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and often chronic fatigue.
“It is very present. Fatigue is combined with symptoms such as ‘brain fog’, which means difficulty concentrating, lack of clarity…” says Linda Geng, from the Stanford PACS clinic.
Dr. Geng cures patients with prolonged COVID.
She says the challenge is diagnosing correctly, that these common symptoms are due to post-Covid and not something else.
“There is a correlation between the persistence of symptoms, which they did not have before they got COVID, and the fact that they did not have other health changes. This somewhat eliminates the other possibilities,” says Dr. Geng.
Health centers for prolonged COVID are rapidly increasing in the United States.
Groups have been created on social media to help patients dealing with the mental consequences of post-COVID symptoms.
Former nurse Laney Bond says her social media group gets 1,500 additions a week.
“We are focused on informing patients,” she says.
The National Institutes of Health has launched a $470 million project to learn more about post-Covid symptoms and find a cure for them./ Source: VOA