CLEVELAND – If you are experiencing COVID long-hauler symptoms after recovering from COVID-19, you are not alone.
Kristin Englund, MD, infectious disease specialist with Cleveland Clinic, said many people have reported issues, some even two years later.
“This is something that we may be dealing with for many years to come. It would be lovely if we could give patients a time frame, just put up with it for six months and it will go away, but we can’t say that at all. Patients are experiencing symptoms two years out and the clock is still ticking,” said Dr. Englund.
Dr. Englund said people are experiencing all kinds of long-hauler symptoms. The most common seem to be overwhelming fatigue, persistent cough, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, light headedness, brain fog, muscle aches, chronic constipation or diarrhea, lack of appetite and loss of sense of taste and smell.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, so patients typically have to meet with different specialists.
Dr. Englund said they have learned quite a bit during the pandemic about long-haulers. For example, it doesn’t matter how severe the person’s case was, anyone could be at risk.
The same goes for whether or not they are vaccinated.
“We are seeing patients who have been vaccinated also presenting with long COVID syndrome. Sometimes it’s because they’ve had the two vaccines but haven’t necessarily had the booster so they might have been more susceptible to the Omicron variant. So overall, I would say the vaccine does protect against long COVID but that is certainly not 100 percent,” she said.
Dr. Englund said they are also researching how each variant impacts long-hauler symptoms.
She continues to emphasize the importance of the vaccine and booster shots.