The CDC is currently working to learn more about the whole range of short and long term health effects associated with post COVID-19. It is becoming more evident that people who have recovered from COVID-19 will go on to experience symptoms that lingers well past testing negative for the virus. Long haulers is the term being used for these individuals who has these symptoms.
While most individuals recover and return to normal health, some individuals can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from COVID-19. The CDC is continuing to work to identify how common these symptoms are, who is likely to get them, and whether or not these symptoms will eventually resolve.
Post COVID-19 symptoms/syndrome may include:
- shortness of breath
- permanent lung scaring
- chronic fatigue
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- difficulty sleeping
- brain fog
- liver/kidney damage
- difficulty concentrating
- loosing sense of smell for over six months
- intermittent fever
- heart palpitations
Long – Haul COVID – 19 Symptoms
A survey conducted by Dr. Natalie Lambert of Indiana University School of Medicine and Survivor Corps analyzed the long-term experiences COVID-19 survivors are having with the virus.
Fatigue and Brain Fog
A lack of focus coupled with extreme exhaustion can make you feel like the COVID beast has chewed you up and spit you out. One of the most common post-COVID complications is what’s called brain fog. Mild confusion or “brain fog” is a common symptom of coronavirus and most colds, flu, and viruses. This confusion may occur because the body’s systems are focused on fighting the illness, not giving enough focus, blood, or alertness to the brain. Fatigue is the next most common lingering symptom of coronavirus. The average recovery time for mild coronavirus cases is around two weeks but three weeks to six weeks for severe or critical cases. Lingering fatigue may be a sign that your body is still fighting the virus or is recovering from the flight.
Researchers, including the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have compared these neurological long-hauler symptoms to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). Similar debilitating symptoms also cropped up in some patients following the SARS outbreak nearly 2 decades ago.
“We need to stop thinking of COVID-19 as something like the flu,” says Natalie Lambert, PhD, associate research professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. “We have to start talking about this as a very serious virus that can cause extensive damage to the body, no matter what age you are or what your underlying health is.” New research out of UCLA suggests the brain fog could also partially be related to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A serious health emergency could certainly bring that on. “But at the same time,” Lambert says, “we know from scans of the brain that some people do get micro clots in their brain from COVID. And we know that the virus is specifically attacking the nervous system.”
The COVID beast can really knock the wind out of you too. Recent studies show that COVID-19 can cause long-term heart and lung damage, especially in severe cases. But the damage can improve over time.
A persistent cough as well as shortness of breath are two common concerns among long haulers. But they also report an inability to be active or exercise. 68 percent of people reported being physically active before the onset of their symptoms. And 70 percent now report being mostly sedentary in their COVID aftermath.
And while certainly a bout of any nasty illness can make climbing the stairs to your apartment a little harder until you regain your strength, Lambert says that’s not necessarily what’s happening with long haulers. “With people who are having long-term COVID-19 impact,” she explains, “it’s not just that it takes a lot more time, people are feeling very ill for a very long time.”
Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing – According to John Hopkins Medicine, shortness of breath is when you feel like you can’t get enough air or your chest is tight. Most people feel this way after exercising or if they’re experiencing a panic attack. However, patients with COVID-19 may feel shortness of breath without even moving since it’s a common symptom of the virus. COVID-19 patients claimed that shortness of breath or difficulty breathing was a long-lasting coronavirus symptom.
Costochondritis – The Mayo Clinic defines costochondritis as “inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone.” Cedars-Sinai claims that the risks for developing a chest wall infection like costochondritis is increased with respiratory trauma, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Dizziness – COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that also has nervous system side effects. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open, “symptoms including headache, dizziness, vertigo, and paresthesia have been reported.” This may be due to decreased oxygen levels, dehydration, fevers, or headaches also caused by the virus.
Persistent Chest Pain or Pressure – Chest pain or pressure was a common lingering COVID-19 symptom among survey participants. Since coronavirus affects the lungs and respiratory system, this chest pain may be attributed to the virus still settling in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden, sharp chest pains are referred to as pleurisy and it may indicate that the lung walls are inflamed. Pleurisy may be a sign of pneumonia or another type of infection, so recovered COVID-19 patients should see a doctor if this symptom persists.
Phantom Smells – According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition is called phantosmia or olfactory hallucinations and they’re commonly caused by upper respiratory infections like the virus.
Aches and Pains
You may also feel like the COVID beast has played schoolyard bully with your body. The Survivor Corps survey results show that more than a quarter (26.5 percent) of reported long-hauler symptoms are associated with pain.
“Many people report a tingling or burning in their extremities, that they have pain in their joints, or they have pain in their feet,” Lambert says. “Sometimes it’s actual nerve pain. And other times it’s a type of inflammation that’s causing the pain.” Organ damage can cause major discomfort as well. Lower back pain, for example, could indicate an impact to the kidneys, Lambert adds.
Muscle or Body Aches – Body aches are a common symptom of many illnesses, including coronavirus. According to Dr. Tania Elliott, MD FAAAAI, FACAAI,”Your body aches when you have the flu because your immune system is revving up to fight infection.” It’s not necessarily the virus that causes these aches but your body’s own reaction to the virus invasion.
Mid – Back Pain at base of Ribs – According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain intensity can range “from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain.” Those recovering from illness may report this pain due to a decrease in movement over the past few days or due to the usual aches and pain of their sickness.
Joint Pain – Dr. Richard Deem from Cedars – Sinai explains that as your immune system attempts to fight off COVID-19 or any type of illness, white blood cells produce interleukins to help join the fight. While these interleukins are useful in fighting off the virus cells, they also cause muscle and joint pain. The immune response may still be heightened in these recovering patients, causing this joint pain to last.
Hand or Wrist Pain – Arthralgia (joint pain) is a common symptom of coronavirus and study published in the Nature Public Health Emergency Collection found that at least one patient in the 40 that were studied experienced joint pain. This joint aliment may linger in those who had the virus, causing hand or wrist pain to remain.
Sharp or Sudden Chest Pain – According to the CDC, persistent pressure or pain in the chest is a symptom of COVID-19 and some people claim to continue feeling this symptom after the virus it is possible that this pain or pressure is actually being felt in the lungs.
Neck Muscle Pain – According to John Hopkins Medicine, your neck doesn’t have much support so neck past is common. Since the virus is known to cause muscle and joint pain, as well as body aches, your sensitive neck is more susceptible to this lingering symptom.
Nerve Sensations – According to a study published in the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, “Viral infections have detrimental impacts on neurological functions, and even cause severe neurological damage. COVID-19.
Extreme Pressure at Base of Head or Occipital Nerve – One of the common symptoms of COVID-19 is a headache. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, pressure at the occipital nerve may caused by muscle tightness or pinched nerves. These nerves may experience pressure or pain during an infection or due to blood vessel inflammation.
Muscle Twitching – According to the University of Florida Health, muscle twitches may be caused by stress, lack of nutrients, or lack of sleep. Coronavirus is known to make its suffers tired and their bodies stressed from fighting the virus, so this may explain muscle twitching. In some cases, it may be a sign of muscle damage or nervous system disorders.
Other Common COVID Symptoms
Headache – According to Dr. Sandhya Mela with the Harford HealthCare Headache Center, “It is estimated that headache is a symptom of COVID-19 in about 13% of patients with COVID-19. It is the fifth most common COVID-19 symptom after fever, cough, muscle aches, and trouble breathing.” Participants of the study claimed that a headache was a long-lasting symptom after COVID-19. This may be due to dehydration, congestion, or other symptoms of coronavirus, such as a fever.
Difficulty Sleeping – Sleep is crucial because it keeps the immune system functioning properly, heightens brain function, stabilizes mood, and improves mental health. This lack of sleep may be due to anxiety or worry about the virus or may be attributed to other lingering symptoms, such as muscle pain or cough. Setting specific bedtimes and only using your bed for sleep may help with these difficulties.
Inability to Exercise or Be Active – After recovering from COVID-19, some patients find it hard to exercise or be active, even if they were fit before contracting the virus. 916 survey participants reported that they were still unable to exercise after recovering from coronavirus. According to a study published in AMA Cardiology, , researchers recommend that patients who suffered from severe cases of COVID-19 wait at least two weeks before resuming light exercise. This allows time for doctors to see if heart or lung conditions develop that could make it dangerous to engage in physical activity.
Cough – A lingering cough can be a side effect of any type of cold, flu, or illness. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Chinese COVID-19 patients, 61.7% developed a dry cough. As a respiratory virus, the cough associated with COVID-19 may take a long time to go away because your body is attempting to get rid of lingering mucus and phlegm.
Memory Problems – A paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s analyzes potential long-term neurological effects of COVID-19 on patients who experienced severe cases. Memory problems and cognitive decline are potential side effects for some of these patients. Since the virus affects the nervous system, memory problems may be a lingering side effect for some patients, especially those who suffered severe cases.
Syncope – This is when you faint or pass out, usually due to a temporary drop in blood flow to the brain reports the Cleveland Clinic.
Swollen Lymph Nodes – According to the Cleveland Clinic, swollen lymph nodes are usually a sign of infection. Your glands are working hard to flush out toxins and cells through lymph fluid. When your body fights a virus like COVID -19, lymph nodes may swell as all hands are on deck trying to get rid of the illness.
Low Blood Pressure – Low blood pressure, such as genetics, your diet, or dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, low blood pressure is also related to infections and hormone fluctuations, which is why it may be a long lasting symptom of COVID-19.
COVID Toes – “COVID Toes” are an emerging symptom of the virus that may not be as common as the other symptoms, such as cough or fever. COVID Toes occur when the toes develop a rash or lesions.
Cold Burning Feeling in Lungs – COVID-19 is a respiratory virus so it’s no wonder those contracted the illness feel a cold or burning sensation in their lungs.
Brain Pressure – A study published in the Journal of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine found a potential link between COVID-19 and benign intracranial hypertension, a condition that causes pressure in the brain. These symptoms are usually temporary but can be serious if they get worse and are left untreated.
“Hot” Blood Rush – These feelings of hot blood rushing vessel irregularities caused by the virus or remnants of a fever. According to a study published in Science Daily, this sudden rise in temperature may be your immune system cranking up in an attempt to continue killing the virus. The study found that “elevated body temperature helps certain types of immune cells t work better.”
Chills But No Fever – Chills without a fever was a long lasting COVID-19 symptom. It could be the body’s way continuing to regulate temperature and recover from a previous fever. According to Keck Medicine of USC, chills without a fever may also indicate your body is under stress and fighting a viral or bacterial infection, or you’re dealing with low blood sugar, which makes sense if you didn’t eat much while you were sick.
Dry Throat – According to the world World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 symptoms generally include a dry cough and sore throat. Living with a dry a cough cough and sore throat throughout the course of the virus may cause this dry throat to remain for a while, even after testing negative for COVID-19.
Post – Nasal Drip – Post- nasal drip is when mucus drips down the back of your throat and it’s common after you’ve had a stuffy or runny nose. After dealing with allergy or sinus issues or infections, post-nasal drip can linger for a while. If one’s body produced extra mucous and fluids in a attempt to fight off the virus, this mucus may continue to drip. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you can treat post-nasal drip by staying hydrated, or inhaling steam, such as from a hot shower.
Weight Loss – COVID-19 survivors who had severe cases are likely to experience extreme weight loss. According to an article posted by Northeast Ohio Medical University, it’s common for patients who survive severe infections or illness to lose weight. When sufferers are placed on ventilators or hospitalized for long periods of time, their bodies don’t obtain the proper nutrition or muscle-building exercise. The body is under stress fighting off the virus, which can cause this weight loss to occur.
Feeling Irritable – According to MedPage Today, it is not uncommon for patients recovering from COVID-19 to feel irritable or angry. The virus may have mental health effects that make it hard for those who have recovered to go back to work or their daily routine without mood swings. Patients who were hospitalized may experience irritation and symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being released.
Changed Sense of Taste – A loss of sense of taste is a common symptom of COVID-19. Loss of sense of taste or partial loss may cause tastes to change. These changes may also be caused by a decreased in taste buds or changes in the way the nervous system processes certain taste sensation.
Tinnitus or Humming in Ears – Tinnitus is a ringing or noise in the ear. Some COVID-19 survivors are still experiencing this ringing and humming in the ear after recovery from COVID-19. According to the American Tinnitus Association, the onset of tinnitus may occur due to stress and anxiety, after there’s been damage to the to the inner ear, or when other condition or disease are developed.
Vitamins That Should Be Taken
Vitamin D – Called “the sunshine vitamin” because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light. Why it might help: Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 international units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IU per day.
Zinc – Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters. Why it might help: It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.
Vitamin C – Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a long list of roles in the body. It’s found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, peppers and tomatoes. Why it might help: It’s a potent antioxidant that’s important for a healthy immune system and preventing inflammation.
Please consult with your physician before consuming any vitamins of sorts.
And while supplements are generally safe, she adds that nothing is risk free. The best way to avoid infection, is still to follow the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts: “Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart.”