Currently, more than 21 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world and that number is growing at a staggering rate. In the United States, so far almost 190,000 have died from the deadly virus.
Even those who recover often face long-term effects of COVID-19. Research is continuing to evolve and those who have recovered from the virus are reporting that the side effects appear to be much longer than the initial illness. People who are coping with the long-term effects of COVID-19 are being referred to as “long haulers”.
According to Robert Kotloff, M.D., professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Harron Long Center, “With COVID, the recovery period seems to be [longer than with other, similar illnesses.] It seems to be taking patients at least several weeks, and in some cases several months, to really get back to feeling good again.”
8. The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19
Individuals with a “mild” case of COVID-19 take about two weeks to fully recover, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, a severe or critical case can take up to six weeks before the sufferer feels like they have fully recovered. It has been noted by medical experts that some patients end up in a state of limbo and their symptoms persist for months even if they are no longer contagious. Some are still reporting symptoms after 120 days.
People with long-term symptoms continue to experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and a cough. Such long-term effects from a virus are uncharacteristic of most. In fact, with a bacterial infection, most symptoms clear up within a week or two.
7. Persistent Symptoms of COVID-19
Everyone is different, but the medical experts at Indiana University’s School of Medicine have noticed some common symptoms that persist in the long hauler:
- Muscle or body aches
- Brain fog
- Difficulty breathing
- Concentration issues
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to perform any type of exercise
- Feeling physically unable to be active
- Memory problems
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pressure in the chest
- Heart palpitations
- Joint pain
6. Additional Long-Lasting Effects of COVID-19
Some sufferers have also reported heartburn, tremors, acid reflux, and blurry vision. Others have heart problems, sore throat, blood clots, and hair loss.
Researchers have also linked COVID-19 to pulmonary fibrosis, which causes thickened lung tissue and in extreme cases causes the sufferer to require a complete lung transplant. In fact, in America, China, and Austria some sufferers have already had to undergo lung transplants.
Many have persistent fatigue, depression, are unable to achieve a restful night’s sleep, and report myalgia.
5. Psychological Impact of COVID-19
Unlike most viruses and bacterial infections that a person recovers from with no lasting mental problems, COVID-19 appears to lead to psychological issues in many who recover. They feel depressed, suffer anxiety, and even have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is especially true of people who have spent time in the ICU or undergone intubation. It often takes them months to mentally recover.
4. Who Is the Most Likely to Suffer Long-Term Effects of COVID-19?
Anyone who is recovering from COVID-19 can encounter long-term side effects regardless of health or age. However, those who have undergone hospitalization appear to be at an increased risk. The long-term recovery is far slower in such patients and they often have severe lung injuries. Those who are older, have a weakened immune system, or have underlying health conditions are at extreme risk.
Many people who were significantly impacted by the virus continue to struggle even one or two months after their recovery with persistent symptoms.
3. The Asymptomatic Sufferers
Up to 40 percent of people who are infected remain asymptomatic and they have absolutely no problems recovering. In fact, many don’t even realize that they are sick with COVID-19 because they exhibit no discernible symptoms.
2. How Long Before COVID-19 Patients Feel Better?
Millions have recovered around the world from COVID-19 but there are many who remain long haulers. Such individuals report that they still feel unwell and perhaps suffer long-term physical or mental damage from the virus.
Clearly the severity of the virus has an impact on recovery time. Those with mild infections will feel better quicker than those with an severe illness. It has been noted that individuals with pulmonary fibrosis appear to suffer the greatest long-term ailments.
1. Attacks Many Physical Sites
COVID-19 attacks a myriad of sites in the body. Even now the impact is still unknown as the virus appears to change and the symptoms increase. Sadly, the long-term side effects also continue to evolve, which puzzles most health officials.
People who appear to recover completely start to again feel unwell a week or two later. Many will even spike fevers which cause many medical professionals to fear re-infection. However, in most cases, the new fevers and side effects are simple lingering symptoms from the original COVID-19 diagnosis. Despite having symptoms, the individuals do not appear to be contagious.