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Primary Care

Uncovering the Long-Term Effects of COVID

While most people with COVID-19 return to normal health, some patients may have post COVID symptoms that last for weeks, months or sometimes longer after recovery. Non-hospitalized and mild COVID-19 cases can even experience persistent or late symptoms. It’s still unclear how many people experience ongoing symptoms. Studies are currently investigating the after-effects of COVID, who is most likely to experience them, and whether the symptoms will eventually resolve.

Common Long-Term Effects of COVID

The list of symptoms for COVID-19 long-haulers is quite long and varried. For some people, the symptoms are nothing like those that they experienced when they were first infected with the virus. The most commonly reported long-term effects of COVID include:

  • Cough
  • Ongoing, sometimes debilitating fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain

Other reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Brain fog (becoming forgetful or confused, difficulty thinking or concentrating)
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Intermittent fever
  • Heart palpitations

Neurological Complications

A variety of long-term neurological complications have been shown in patients who recover from COVID-19. Some may experience neuropsychiatric issues, including ‘fuzzy brain,’ ‘mental fog,’ or confusion. Others may experience long-term taste and smell disturbances (dysgeusia and anosmia). Scientists are currently working to discover COVID-19’s long-term impact on the brain to understand how neurological complications can be treated or prevented.

Cardiovascular Effects

Some recovered COVID-19 patients suffer prolonged cardiac injury. COVID-19 is thought to damage the heart in two ways; widespread inflammation throughout the body, hurting the functioning of the heart and second, the virus may directly invade ACE2 receptors within the myocardial tissue. Nearly 25% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 develop myocardial injury or injury to the heart tissue. Researchers are still uncovering the type of lingering effects the coronavirus can have on the heart, but many health experts suspect people could experience cardiovascular complications for months or even years after recovery.

Pulmonary Complications

Some patients who recover from COVID-19 experience various long-term lung complications. Persistent respiratory symptoms including chronic cough, fibrotic lung disease, bronchiectasis, and pulmonary vascular disease can occur in patients recovering from the virus. Medical experts are still collecting data to determine the extent of long-term lung damage in coronavirus patients.

 

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