Understanding Long Covid
The evil of COVID-19 continues.. 1 in 5 adults who have been infected and recovered from the devil itself are now suffering from a long list of health problems, and wait for it, even looong after they have tested NEGATIVE. It’s called the “Long COVID”.
…and evil has many names:
Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS CoV-2 Infection (PASC)
It's clear that Long COVID is a complex entity that can be difficult to diagnose and there is no one definition. Medical research and clinical studies are still in the early stages and in fact, it is the long-haul patient community who have been at the forefront of research and advocacy and was even responsible for coining the term ‘long-covid’.
Long Covid is characterized by a continuation of symptoms experienced from the initial SARS CoV-2 Infection and/or development of new symptoms that last for at least 2 months and can not be explained or correlated to another condition or diagnosis.
Even though Long COVID does not have a definite form, researchers are noticing these:
The severity and persistence of long-haul symptoms are unrelated to the severity of the initial infection
Though there is a long list of possible symptoms, some of these symptoms tend to show up in clusters and each person affected may have different combinations of ailments
Symptoms tend to come and go or are brought on and exacerbated by certain stressors and activities
Generally, diagnostic testing and visits to the doctor do not turn up any clinical abnormalities
Other pre-existing health conditions that may not have been a major issue for a patient in the past, can be activated or amplified
Who Can Get Long Covid?
Post-Covid conditions can affect anyone who has previously been infected with the SARS-CoV-2. Some individuals may be more susceptible to developing long-haul symptoms.
Some of these factors include:
Pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions, autoimmune diseases, and obesity
Age over 65
Biological sex: studies have shown that women have a higher incidence of developing long covid
Severe infection with Hospitalizations (especially with a prolonged ICU stay)
Vaccination status: being unvaccinated
All this being said, one particularly challenging aspect of understanding post-acute covid, however, is the fact that there are many people experiencing long-term effects who presented with mild symptoms (or were asymptomatic) when they were initially infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What are the symptoms of Chronic Covid?
The most common symptom associated with Long Haul COVID-19 is fatigue; many patients report feeling physically drained and exhausted for weeks or months on end, even after their initial infection has cleared up.
Other common symptoms of Long Covid include:
Difficulty concentrating/processing information (known as “brain fog”)
Loss of appetite
Joint pain/muscle pain, and chest pain
Change in smell or taste
Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
While these symptoms vary depending on the person, they are all signs that something more serious might be happening than just a typical COVID-19 recovery.
How Do I Prevent Getting Long Covid?
Because so much is unknown about the cause of long covid or why some people get it and some people don’t, the only surefire way to protect yourself is to do whatever is in your power to avoid initial infection with the covid-19 virus.
Here's what you should do:
TEST OFTEN! and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Regular testing for covid-19 is a proven way to make sure you know your positive or negative status so you can make safe choices about when to participate in activities where you could potentially infect other people and spread the virus.
VACCINATE! Studies are showing that vaccinated individuals have a lower incidence of contracting long covid symptoms. Vaccination also safeguards against severe infection and/or hospitalizations which can be risk factors for long covid.
MASK UP! When in doubt, wear a mask to protect yourself. Most masking regulations have been lifted, but it is still a good idea to wear a mask at large indoor public gatherings and for public travel, especially airline travel.
What Are Some Ways To Manage Long Covid?
Western Medical Care
Work closely with your general practitioner or specialists to manage symptoms.