According to WebMD, these people suffer from what’s called protracted COVID, long-term COVID, acute COVID-19 or even chronic COVID. These general terms describe the range of ongoing health problems caused by COVID-19. The laundry list of post-COVID symptoms continues to grow, now including hair loss and impotence, as well as fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath.
There is no way to test for COVID for long, so health care experts rely on common symptoms that appear to persist after infection.
“It is not uncommon to see some residual shortness of breath or heart palpitations, especially if you are exerting yourself,” said Brittany Ballon, M.D., a certified nurse at the Cleveland Clinic. “The acute phase of COVID itself can last up to 14 days. But if it has been 30 days since you contracted the virus, and your symptoms are still present and have not improved, that indicates some level of prolonged COVID.”
More than 200 symptoms have been linked to Covid disease for a long time, but the most consistent complaint is fatigue.
“We often hear that patients can’t fold laundry or take a short walk with their dog without feeling overwhelmed,” Ballon says.
Other common symptoms include those affecting the heart and lungs. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, one study showed that 60% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had signs of persistent carditis, which can lead to common symptoms like shortness of breath, palpitations, and a fast heartbeat. This inflammation has appeared even in people with mild cases of COVID-19 who did not have medical problems before they became ill.
A poor case of COVID-19 can cause scarring or other permanent damage to the lungs, but even mild infections can lead to persistent shortness of breath. Experts say it could take months for lung function to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
A long-standing troubling problem with COVID-19 is loss of taste and smell. Although it is not life threatening, it can lead to loss of appetite, anxiety and depression. Some studies say there is a 60% to 80% chance of these senses returning within a year.
“Some individuals develop moderate to long-term symptoms after infection with the COVID virus, including brain fog, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness,” says Dr. Arun Venkatesan, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. The cause of these symptoms is unclear, but they are an active area of investigation. “.
A recent study of 2.4 million health records found that hair loss, decreased libido, and ejaculation may be three of the previously unrecognized symptoms of the coronavirus, Forbes says. The new research, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, expands symptoms of COVID-19 to include hair loss and impotence.
The researchers also noted that 500,000 registered patients with COVID-19 infection, who were not admitted to hospital, reported experiencing 62 symptoms after 12 weeks or more of infection, compared to those who did not become infected.
It’s now clear that prolonged COVID can cause a variety of problems, Baloun says, and if it persists for more than a month, it’s time to see your doctor to test for other potential causes, such as a thyroid disorder or vitamin deficiency.
“These tests cannot provide definitive answers, but they can help provide clues about the cause of symptoms and whether they are related to prolonged COVID,” she says. Doctors can also take a thorough medical history to try to determine the cause of chronic symptoms.
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