By Dr. Ann Lima
The lack of return to usual state of health after having COVID-19 is something that many people that have had this disease suffer. This can happen even when there were mild symptoms of the disease. There are many terms used to describe this – Long COVID, chronic COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID – and describes these health issues that last more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus.
A study came out in January 2021, noting that 76% of patients had at least one symptom 6 months after their hospitalization. Note that these were all patients sick enough to be hospitalized. Then there are other studies to indicate around 10% of all those infected will suffer long COVID, even if no symptoms or mild symptoms identified.
Some of the most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, sleeping difficulties and anxiety or depression. Along with this there is a “brain fog” described as well, when people suffer a loss of concentration or memory issues after having COVID.
Then there are the complications from being in an intensive care unit for any period of time or recovering from some of the other problems that arise from complications of COVID-19, such as clotting, kidney problems, or inflammation of the heart.
As with all things COVID, we are learning more about these long-term effects as we continue down the path of enlightenment and research. Much of the investigations that your health care provider may look for are contributing factors that could be making it worse. And much of the treatment is supportive, meaning training your body to work past this – with physical and occupational therapy, breathing exercises, brain exercises, emotional exercises (cognitive behavioral therapy).
There are some reports that getting the COVID-19 vaccine has improved some of these long-haul symptoms, but this is incompletely understood right now. However, the one way to prevent the long-term effects of COVID, is to prevent you from getting it in the first place.
Vaccines are available at all of the Clearwater Valley Hospital Clinics and there will be a special vaccine clinic in Pierce on May 25. Call 208-476-5777 to get your vaccine appointment scheduled.