COVID ‘long-haul’ symptoms leave survivors with more questions than answers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Long after recovering from a COVID infection, many COVID survivors still experiencing symptoms from the virus.

It’s left a lot of people wondering how long the ongoing fatigue and persistent cough will last. Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, medical professionals didn’t know what to make of many COVID survivors, or long haulers as they’re called, with symptoms even after recovery.

“Long haulers refers to individuals that have had COVID infection, but their symptoms last longer than what we typically expect,” said Dr. Shirin Mazumder, an infectious disease specialist at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

Mazumder said in many cases, patients have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, but they’re still experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, loss of smell, and loss of taste.

“In addition to that patients complain of dizziness, brain fog, a hard time concentrating, perhaps long term headaches and dizziness and even some respiratory symptoms. Things like shortness of breath and cough,” Mazumder said.

Even with medical investigations and discussions underway, many doctors aren’t sure who’s a likely candidate to become a long hauler or how long their symptoms will last ranging from just somewhat annoying to being completely debilitating.

“Some of the patients I follow have had these symptoms for months. We really don’t know what the time course is. The symptoms appear to be chronic. But we don’t know what’s going to happen in another few months with these patients. Right now the answer is we just don’t know,” Mazumder said.

For now doctors are treating long term COVID symptoms one case at a time with this word of advice for patients regarding recovery and preventing death.

“Right now as far as I’m aware there have not been any fatalities linked to long term COVID. But some patients can have inflammation in their heart and their brains. So, it is important for patients to reach out to their doctors if they feel like their symptoms are not getting better,” Mazumder said.

Mazumder urges everyone to stay safe, mask up, and follow social distancing guidelines, if you have to leave your home.

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