It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the pandemic, and we are learning that there are many ways that COVID-19 can cause chronic health issues.
Most COVID-19 cases recover within a few weeks, however, in certain individuals, symptoms have persisted for weeks and months. In these COVID long-hauler cases (some estimates place at 10%), damage may occur to the lungs, heart, and brain leading to an increased risk of long-term health problems.
While the exact number of US long-haul cases is unknown, continued symptoms are more likely to occur in older individuals and those with serious medical conditions, although there are reports in younger people and those who experienced mild cases of COVID-19.
In the next section, let’s explore some ongoing issues that may arise from COVID-19.
Long-term Effects of COVID-19
The toll of the pandemic is much higher than expected. Being hospitalized from severe symptoms of COVID-19 may cause post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Whether an individual has a mild or severe case, many people become frustrated when their doctors do not consider that their symptoms may be from their prior COVID-19 infection. Here at The Care Group, we are here to support you on your journey towards optimal health and recovery.
In a recent study, over 50 long-term symptoms were connected with COVID-19. Complications of COVID-19 may include cell damage, inflammatory immune response, and abnormal blood clotting which can lead to a myriad of symptoms such as fatigue, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, loss of smell or taste, concentration and memory issues, sleep problems, rashes, and hair loss.
Organ Damage Caused by COVID-19
COVID-19 can affect the respiratory system as a cough and shortness of breath to more severe symptoms and even respiratory failure. Individuals with an underlying lung disease like asthma or COPD are at higher risk of long-term complications. Pneumonia associated with COVID-19 can cause long-term damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs leading to scar tissue (fibrosis) and ongoing breathing problems.Vitamin D deficiency is linked to poor prognosis in patients with acute respiratory failure from COVID-19. It is important to monitor your vitamin D and when it is low, a Vitamin D supplement can be beneficial.
- HeartThe virus inflames the heart muscle and disrupts the balance between oxygen supply and demand. Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases are more likely to experience low oxygen levels, unstable blood pressures, and blood clotting disorders as long-term effects from COVID-19.
- BrainNew research suggests that there may be long-term neurologic consequences from COVID-19 leading to brain damage, especially in those over 70. From major cognitive impairment and increased risk of dementia to cognitive, behavioral, and psychological problems, a myriad of long-term effects from COVID-19 are being analyzed.
Continuing Research on COVID-19 Effects
We need more time, data, and research to adequately assess the long-term effects of COVID-19. Many hospitals are creating Post-COVID clinics to provide care for people who have persistent symptoms.
If you had COVID-19 and have lingering symptoms, we are here to help. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our providers for specific recommendations. To date, we have had a number of our patients benefit from our functional medicine approach to this perplexing illness.
Please view our COVID-19 Information Page to learn about testing and vaccine information.