What We Know about COVID-19 ‘Long-Haulers’

For some people, COVID-19 is a long haul. Kristin Englund, MD, tells us which coronavirus symptoms may last weeks after infection.

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CLEVELAND – Most people who get COVID-19 recover in about four weeks, but for some, symptoms can linger for months.

Kristin Englund, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic said early studies suggest anyone who contracts the virus is at risk for long-term symptoms.

“One recent publication described that patients that have long-COVID symptoms aren’t necessarily those that were hospitalized. So, even if you have what’s considered fairly mild infection and you didn’t need to be in the hospital but were still symptomatic from it, you are going to run the risk that you may persist in having some of these symptoms,” she said.

Dr. Englund said there’s a wide variety of long-term health issues that may linger after a COVID-19 infection.

Some people suffer from persistent fatigue, headache, shortness of breath or chest pain. While others may experience brain fog or memory issues.  Anxiety and depression can also linger.

According to Dr. Englund, there’s currently no way to tell who’s going to experience ongoing symptoms after fighting coronavirus.

“We don’t really know right now how many patients will develop these long-COVID symptoms after they have had this infection,” she said. “Studies look at anywhere between 10% and 80%, so there could be a large number of people who are experiencing symptoms well after that four week time period when we expect people to normally recover.”

Some medical centers have started special clinics to treat COVID-19 long-haulers.

If you’ve had a confirmed case of coronavirus and still aren’t feeling well after four weeks, Dr. Englund recommends talking to your primary care physician about further evaluation.

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