For people who have weathered the COVID-19 virus, dealing with the acute impact of symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath and coughing may not be the end of the struggle. Some patients are reporting ongoing symptoms even after recovering from the initial onset of the virus.
“As we learn more about COVID-19 and how it impacts the body, we’re learning some patients are experiencing long-term consequences,” said Dr. Jennifer Frank, Chief Medical Officer at ThedaCare. “Patients are reporting symptoms such as ongoing fatigue, headaches or shortness of breath.”
Physicians have learned the virus can affect more than the respiratory system, creating inflammation and blood clots across multiple organs, which may be leading to ongoing health problems in COVID-19 patients.
Those who are most at risk for contracting COVID-19, older people and those with serious medical conditions, are also the most likely to experience lingering symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms that linger over time include fatigue, headache, cough, joint pain, and shortness of breath.
In additions to these common symptoms, there are other issues as well, including hair loss and brain fog.
“One of the difficult things about the virus is that it impacts different people in different ways, sometimes manifesting with severe symptoms,” explained Dr. Frank. “We’re seeing evidence that some of the long-term impacts can occur even in patients who experience mild acute symptoms of COVID-19.”
Health experts continue to catalog and study the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 virus on patients. Dr. Frank explained the best defense is taking precautions to avoid contracting the virus, including:
Wear a mask whenever in a public setting.
Practice social distancing, remaining at least six feet away from anyone they don’t live with.
Avoid unnecessary phy-sical touching.
Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol.
Clean and disinfect common surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches keyboards, cell phones, toilets and faucets regularly.
Avoid people who are sick.
Stay away from others when sick.
“We want to help everyone stay as healthy as possible to avoid contracting COVID-19 and experiencing long-term effects caused by the virus,” she explained. “Let’s all do that we can to best protect ourselves, those we love and those around us.”