Covid-19 Long Term Symptoms – The Long Haulers

As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and as the days and months pass, we are learning a disturbing trend with this infection. Though initially thought to be causing only mild symptoms in most patients – a little more than the flu- we are getting to know of many patients who are showing long term symptoms after exposure to the infection.

The classical Covid-19 infection usually settles by about two weeks from the onset of the disease. Patients test negative and go back to work. However, the disease is taking a very protracted course in some individuals- termed ‘Long Covid’ by some of the clinical situations is characterized by long term symptoms attributable to the disease. Though one would expect that patients who suffered a serious form of the disease would have recovery issues, surprisingly we are seeing long term symptoms even in those who had a mild form of the disease.

Though this phenomenon has only recently been recognized some workers seem to feel that up to 10 to 15 percent of patients, including those with a mild infection, may be affected with a chronic (long-term) outcome.

Long Term Effects of Covid-19

The systems that are involved include the Lungs, The Heart, Kidneys, Brain, etc – so the symptoms would be linked to disease/ damage to these systems/ organs:

– Breathlessness

– Cough

– Palpitations, Heart arrhythmia

– Hypertension

– Chronic fatigue

– Body pain, Muscle pain, Joint pain

– ‘Brain Fog’ – a fuzzy head with lack of clarity of thought

– Insomnia- the inability to sleep well

These symptoms have been known to persist for weeks – and for some- with no end in sight.

The unfortunate part is that many healthy young patients who fell prey to this disease are in the category of ‘Long haulers.’

Our understanding is very rudimentary, but it is possible that the ‘cytokine storm’ initiated by the disease may cause long term symptoms and this supports the use of the drug Dexamethasone in preventing the formation of such a harmful immune reaction in order to prevent damage to the tissues.

For persons who go on to develop this chronic condition an attempt is being made to see if Monoclonal Antibodies could offer a solution? Nothing is certain as of now.

It is then abundantly clear that our best strategy is to comply with all precautions and stay safe.

“It is only a mild viral infection- let me get it then I will be free from it forever” is a very foolhardy and dangerous line of thought because apart from the risk of spread the disease can take a serious turn even in the healthiest of individuals.

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