Doctors are finding that some patients who are no longer infected with the virus have ongoing symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog
For some patients, getting over COVID-19 is just the beginning. A subset of patients known as “long haulers” are emerging who continue to have symptoms weeks and even months after the virus has cleared their systems.
These patients can face both mental and physical challenges, said Dr. Cynthia Gries, medical director of AdventHealth’s lung-transplant program, on today’s AdventHealth Morning Briefing.
Long haulers are defined as those who are still having symptoms more than three weeks after their initial diagnosis. People who’ve had any level of COVID-19 can become long haulers, Gries said, ranging from hospitalized patients to those with mild cases who may have recovered at home.
Symptoms can include headache, fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath, Gries said. To date, the majority of patients are women, and younger populations seem to be more affected.
In addition, the syndrome can bring a mental toll, Gries said, resulting from the trauma of the disease diagnosis itself, to the isolation required during treatment, to survivors guilt in the aftermath of the disease.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see PTSD in these patients going forward,” Gries said.
Gries also advised patients who’ve had the disease to get vaccinated, but to wait three months post-COVID before doing so.
Some have reported that getting the vaccine helped their long-haul symptoms, Gries added.