More than half of the people who have had COVID-19 experience symptoms that persist long after they have overcome the infection, even if it was mild, something that is still a mystery to science.
Now, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents a comprehensive guide to these symptoms, with tips for managing and even preventing them.
What is known so far is that for some COVID it is lethal, for others it is a mild infection and for another group it may be an infection that leaves physical and mental symptoms that last long after the virus has left the body.
Vaccination status is of course a critical variable in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. But these “extra” symptoms are capricious and, in any case, they can end up appearing. Who will present them or not is random.
Dozens of studies are collecting information from patients about these symptoms to better understand why they occur and what they may mean in terms of prognosis and overall health.
CDC estimates indicate that of people who had COVID and have post-infection symptoms:
- 13% present them a month or more after infection.
- 2.5% present them at three months
- More than 30% after six months (especially in patients who were hospitalized)
The CDC is collecting the information on these sequelae under a research program called Recover, which aims to achieve a clinical framework that helps the best possible recovery after COVID.
What appears after being infected with the coronavirus can include a variety of symptoms, some of which may simply go away, and others may turn into health problems.
Apparently the symptom that is the common denominator in most cases is fatigue or extreme tiredness. Furthermore, the symptoms are:
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that are aggravated by physical or mental exertion (post-exertional malaise)
respiratory and cardiac
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Palpitations (rapid heart rate)
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes called “brain fog”)
- sleeping problems
- Dizziness (fainting) when standing up
- Tingling sensation
- Changes in taste or smell
- depression or anxiety
- Muscle or joint pain
- Changes in menstrual cycles
In general, people who present one or several of these symptoms find that doctors do not have many explanations to give them. Clinical evaluations, blood test results are normal, similar to those prior to infection. Also X-rays or electrocardiograms.
People who were hospitalized for COVID and were seriously ill are at increased risk of developing new chronic conditions. Also:
- Those with underlying pre-COVID conditions
- Those who have not been vaccinated
- People with multisystem inflammatory syndrome
- Those who were unable to access adequate care while infected, something that has occurred among vulnerable and minority populations.
- Take care of your own body
- Breathe deeply, do stretching exercises, practice mindfulness techniques.
- Try to eat healthy foods and well balanced meals.
- Exercise if you can
- Listen to the body. If you feel tired, take a break.
- Sleep well
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
In all cases it is essential to consult with your GP, a cardiologist or another specialist related to the condition.
Post-COVID symptoms and inequity
The COVID-19 pandemic has put on the table problems that already existed in health care, one of them, equal access to health care, which leads not only to the chance of having an appropriate and timely diagnosis and form, but also timely and effective treatment.
Latinos are among the ethnic groups most affected by COVID, by barriers to care, and by the need to work, often in high-exposure jobs.
Also for the opposite, the loss of employment, due to the pandemic. As of October 2020, 53% of working Latinos had lost their jobs due to COVID.
Exposure to COVID may have been greater whether you were working in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or a restaurant.
What to do if post-COVID symptoms are experienced
Experts are still working to determine what types of medications or treatments can help ease the effects of post-COVID-19 conditions. However, there are proven resources for coping with stress associated with persistent symptoms: