For many Covid has been detrimental to their health or a loved one. For others it has been dismissed as “just another cold.” Due to the various strains and amounts of people immunized Covid has evolved into a virus that may seem mild to moderate in severity but causes long-term effects from the infection, known as post-Covid (PCC) or Long Covid.
According to the CDC, post-Covid conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus causeing Covid-19. Conditions occur at least 4 weeks after infection – whether someone knew they had Covid or not. Research is also suggesting that post-Covid conditions are occurring up to 1 year after having Covid.
People who experience post-Covid conditions most commonly report (source CDC, Hopkins Medicine and Mayo Clinic):
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- “Post exertional malaise” or fatigue after physical or mental exercise
- Unexplained fevers
- Shortness of breath
- Cough and/or chest pain
- Palpitations, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
- “Brain fog” or difficulty concentrating
- Change in smell or taste
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle and joint pains
- Intermittent rashes
- Change in menstrual cycle
- Erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease
Why does Covid-19 cause ongoing health problems?
Research is suggesting that organ damage from the SARS-CoV-2 attacking the body can play a role. Inflammation and problems affecting the immune system on the heart, kidneys, skin, and brain has been found. These affects can result in the development of new conditions, causing Long-Covid issues.
Who is at higher risk?
People with certain risk factors (including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions) are more likely to have serious bouts of Covid-19, but there has not been a clear link to who will have long-term Covid conditions.
What is the treatment for Long-Covid?
Your health care provider and specialists can work with you to address symptoms. It is often taking a team of multidisciplinary approaches to help. Physical therapy, breathing exercises, medications and other treatments have been shown to be helpful. There are currently clinical trials in place testing various drugs and interventions to also help.
How do I prevent Long-Covid?
Preventing infection from Coronavirus is the best way to avoid post-covid complications. Practicing precautions and staying up to date with vaccines have shown to be effective.
When should you see your health care provider?
Since long-Covid symptoms are similar to other diseases, it is important to get evaluatesd to distinguish between these and other health problems. Any symptoms that interfere with you daily life are worth being seen for. Don’t write things off as “all in your head” as even insomnia and mental health issues are important.
There is a lot to learn about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Understanding is evolving daily and researchers continue to study the short-term and long-term effects of this virus in hopes of providing therapies to those living with Long-Covid.
Sources: CDC, Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins Clinic, National Library of Medicine