Posted by Gladys Anne Labsan
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Long COVID: Your guide to post-COVID-19 conditions

In the United States, millions of people tested positive for COVID-19. Although several have recovered from it, there are records of patients who developed long-term effects, even after testing negative for COVID-19. People who do experience lingering complications are often labeled as “long haulers”.

The syndrome that involves long-term effects of Coronavirus infection is also called long COVID. Common persistent symptoms of long COVID include physical and mental difficulties.

Cause of long COVID

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common lingering symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia and other sleeping problems
  • Fever
  • Lightheadedness
  • Joint pain
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Experts don’t have a definitive answer yet but they have come up with several theories as to why some COVID-19 survivors are experiencing long-term effects:

  • Immune systems may have gone into a frenzy as a result of the infection, targeting not just the virus but also their own cells. This is something that could occur in people who have extremely powerful immune responses.
  • The long-term effects are the result of a live virus reactivating in the body. Pieces of the virus might still remain in the body, staying inactive for a time before being resurrected.
  • It may be an autoimmune disorder, in which the body attacks itself.
  • It may be caused by a weakened immune system.
  • Some of these could be a result of how the virus penetrates and destroys body cells. Injuries to blood vessels, in particular, could lead to heart, lung, and brain issues.

At present, there isn’t much indication to determine what’s happening with the COVID-19 virus to generate such a wide range of issues. It’s possible that the lingering symptoms vary based on the health status of the patient.

Who is most likely to experience long COVID?

According to doctors, it’s difficult to identify who’s most likely to experience long COVID since this was just recently discovered. However, recent studies show that age may play a role and that it’s twice as common to women than men. Those with pre-existing conditions and those who were hospitalized because of Coronavirus may have higher chances of getting long COVID.

Long COVID is still a relatively new condition and researchers are still attempting to figure out why it affects only some individuals, in so many different ways, and how it can be prevented.

In recovering patients, it was observed that some had long COVID symptoms that seem more severe than the previous infection. Some, however, experienced milder long-term effects, such as coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, and extended loss of taste or smell.

Young people and long COVID

It was found that some young COVID-19 patients also experience long COVID symptoms. Leading specialists, however, are optimistic that long-lasting symptoms are less frequent than previously thought.

But still, according to researchers, the danger to young individuals is “not insignificant”. It’s critical that youngsters, who are still experiencing headaches, fatigue, or breathing problems, get medical help as needed.

Evaluation for post-COVID conditions

The CDC recommends that COVID-19 patients should ideally have follow-up checkups within one to two weeks after hospital discharge. They should also have a clear understanding of how to take their medication before, during, and after hospitalization.

A thorough physical examination is essential to catch long COVID symptoms early. If a patient is experiencing one or two lingering effects associated with long COVID, call the doctor for advice and for an appropriate post-COVID medical management plan immediately.                                                                                               

Recommended COVID-19 prevention measures

For those who recovered from COVID-19, continuous follow-up check-ups should be maintained. Also, make sure to follow CDC’s recommended COVID-19 prevention measures, such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, regular washing of hands, avoiding crowds and closed spaces, and getting vaccinated.

Precautionary care

Always observe safety practices and make sure that you get tested when you suspect that you have symptoms or if you were exposed to the virus. Get vaccinated and get booster shots to enhance your protection against COVID.

It’s important to always be vigilant and mindful of your body especially when it comes to nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and mental health. These should be managed accordingly with the help of your family members and health care experts.

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