What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to the CDC, those who are infected with COVID-19 can experience fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, a new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

Even after recovering, some patients still suffer from the lingering effects of the virus.

During Wednesday’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 briefing, health leaders discussed those long-term effects.

“Many individuals can have a prolonged fatigue, headache, and weakness,” said Amarillo Public Health Authority, Dr. Scott Milton. “There’s an entity called brain fog, where people just don’t seem to have a sharp of a memory and cognitive function that can last for weeks. So there certainly are several different things and several different symptoms that can be very prolonged.”

Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Hospital, also brought attention to the prolonged shortness of breath.

“I’ve had a couple of associates who had COVID, you know, weeks ago and they struggled to even hold a conversation with me walking down the hallway. So this could prolong shortness of breath also is another symptom we’re seeing,” said Dr. Weis.

BSA Health Systems Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer, said they have seen those effects in some of their staff.

“We’ve not permitted some of our healthcare workers to come back to work because of them just being too short of breath, despite being weeks off from their infection,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms can last for weeks or even months after recovery. The organization’s website says, “Even people who are not hospitalized and who have mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms.”

The CDC said the most commonly reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain

Other reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with thinking and concentration (brain fog)
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Intermittent fever
  • Heart palpitations

The CDC said more serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported, noted to affect different organ systems in the body. These include:

  • Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
  • Renal: acute kidney injury
  • Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
  • Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
  • Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood

The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known. CDC will continue active investigation and provide updates as new data emerge, which can inform COVID-19 clinical care as well as the public health response to COVID-19.

CDC

The CDC said the best way to prevent long-term complications is to prevent COVID-19. It added the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection is to wear masks, socially distance, wash your hands, and avoid crowds.


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