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The Lasting Effects of COVID-19

January 11, 2021

While the lives lost to COVID-19 are carefully and consistently counted, what’s less understood is the number of people who survive the disease, yet are plagued for weeks or months with COVID-19’s potentially devastating toll on the body.

The general public has dubbed these patients COVID-19 long haulers. They survive their initial infection but continue to deal with persistent symptoms that are complex in themselves and can reduce overall quality of life. These symptoms can persist for 12 weeks and longer. Post-COVID-19 symptom management can become a serious health concern, causing a variety of challenges in life, such as the inability to return to work.

Post-COVID-19 symptom management

What are COVID-19’s long-term effects on the body? What are the symptoms of a COVID-19 long hauler? As this is still a new disease, the medical community is still learning about the long-term effects. In patients who have COVID-19 symptoms for weeks or months following their initial illness, we most often see these conditions:

  • Blood clots
  • "Brain fog" (confusion, short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle pains and weakness
  • Poor diabetes control
  • Rash
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach

Even patients who had mild disease and were not hospitalized may have prolonged symptoms. It remains unclear who or why some people are affected longer than others.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 can be a very serious disease. Surviving the initial infection is the immediate goal, but ongoing recovery and COVID-19 symptom management also requires attention. It takes time to reach full strength and return to normal life, and the timeline differs from person to person.

If you experience ongoing COVID-19 symptoms for 12 weeks or more following recovery from your initial infection, call your primary care provider. If a referral to a specialist is needed, our program is here for you for care and support.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Call 913-588-1227 for help establishing one.

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