The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 – as many as 80% – suffer ongoing symptoms weeks or even months after recovering from the initial illness, a large review of several studies has shown.
A list of more than 50 persistent symptoms have been linked to the virus in people who experienced both mild and severe cases of COVID-19. The most commonly reported, the analysis found, are fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention problems (27%), hair loss (25%), shortness of breath (24%), and loss of smell (24%).
Other lingering symptoms for many patients involve the lungs (cough, chest discomfort, sleep apnea and others), cardiovascular system (cardiac arrhythmias and myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart wall), and neurologic/psychiatric functions (memory loss, depression, anxiety and other problems).
There is currently no specific diagnosis or medical treatment plan to address these lasting effects in patients suffering from “long COVID,” who are commonly referred to as “long haulers.” Because they are so prevalent, though, developing preventive measures, rehabilitation techniques, and management strategies to address these long-term effects is an urgent priority, according to Sonia Villapol, Ph.D., of Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas, who led the research.
In the St. Louis area, Washington University School of Medicine recently opened a clinic for patients with long-term COVID effects. The Washington University Care and Recovery After COVID Clinic (CARE) provides coordinated services among 11 medical specialties, and is accepting patients who have had a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 and are experiencing lingering symptoms. The clinic can be reached at (314) 996-8103.