As of 04/26/2022, there have been 506,608,980 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection worldwide. Approximately 80 million people living in the US have recovered from COVID and are considered at risk for long-term COVID syndrome. About 20% of the population that have recovered from COVID have signs or symptoms of long COVID, which may be mild to disabling.
Long COVID syndrome has been found to be more common in women and those who are diabetic, have hypothyroidism, or who have recovered from severe COVID-19-related illness.
Since the COVID symptoms in vaccinated patients are milder, we strongly recommend the vaccine to prevent this complication. Symptoms of long COVID are nonspecific. A patient may experience some of these symptoms or just one. Common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty focusing, attention problems, palpitations, shortness of breath (with a normal oxygen saturation), myalgias, body aches and pain, and arthritis, loss of taste or smell may persist for a long time.
Women may experience menstrual abnormalities. Symptoms are more severe in those patients who had a severe illness and required hospitalization and are less severe in patients who had an asymptomatic infection and had mild symptoms during infection.
The exact cause of long COVID is unknown, however, it is possibly due to inflammation that is induced by the virus.
Long COVID is not related to the type of strain of infection of COVID. Long COVID can still develop from any strain including Omnicron B2. Long COVID can also occur in patients who had breakthrough infection after vaccination. However, symptoms are mild in those who have received the vaccine.
The only prevention of long COVID is to get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent illness and if infection occurs, the illness will be less severe and a lower chance of developing long COVID.
Treatment for COVID infection is symptomatic care. The exact date of recovery is unpredictable from COVID. Pain management, antidepressants, counseling, and antiviral treatments have no role.
Our infectious disease office can schedule appointments for evaluation and counseling of long COVID or patients can discuss their symptoms with their primary care providers or psychologists.