Loss of taste or smell, brain fog and respiratory problems are just some of the lingering symptoms of some who have had COVID-19.
Dubbed Long COVID, Dr. Steven Berk, dean of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, said there was no real definition of the long-term symptoms that many have reported over the nearly three years. years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The National Institute of Health has actually been defined for a long time as COVID,” Berk said. “What we mean by long COVID is persistent symptoms, months after someone has been infected with COVID-19 and it becomes a huge problem for the country, especially because we now realize that some people may have very mild COVID symptoms, and yet the real issue could be the long-term symptoms.
The reason it is difficult to define these ongoing effects is due to the way the symptoms manifest in each individual.
Dr. Victor Test, division chief of pulmonary and critical care for TTUHSC, said the American Medical Association has identified 50 symptoms linked to Long COVID, and with so many symptoms, it’s hard for doctors to misdiagnose Long COVID. or another underlying disease.
“Of 50 symptoms that were identified, 58% of people had fatigue and 44% of people had headaches,” Test said.
According to the AMA, not only are headaches a major symptom, but other neurological symptoms are as well, Berk said.
“People are even saying there was me before COVID and now there’s me after COVID, which is pretty, pretty serious,” he said. “Chronic fatigue is important, but doesn’t have the same energy as before COVID-19 – in fact very similar to what we called chronic fatigue syndrome.”
However, the most confusing mental health symptom is the brain fog that patients talk about, Berk said.
He said there is a study that shows that the antibodies the body makes when fighting the virus can go up in the brain.
Test said that according to the AMA, 27% of individuals have brain fog, however, the treatment for brain fog is unclear at this point as it is still relatively new.
“For some things like pulmonary fibrosis, we know how to treat that. And we tend to treat it the same as any other type of pulmonary fibrosis,” Test said. “People with intense and overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and similar symptoms – which can be quite debilitating – the treatment really isn’t very well defined at all.”
Other complications include the destruction of respiratory cells, which creates loss of taste and/or smell for an extended period, Berk said, as well as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
“When you put it all together, some studies have indicated that 20% of people who have had COVID continue to have one of these long-standing symptoms, so it’s a pretty serious problem,” he said. he declares. “And for me, what makes it even worse is that we’re starting to realize that COVID right now isn’t that bad.”
Berk said the notion that COVID-19 isn’t serious comes from those who contract the virus and only have mild symptoms.
“The problem is that the correlation with post-COVID symptoms doesn’t seem to correlate with disease severity,” Berk said. “So you can have minor COVID And then after two weeks the infection is over and you’re tired for months. So that’s pretty scary.
At this time, there is no clear treatment for Long COVID, Berk said. Rest is the best option as well as taking a break from training.
“That’s another good reason to get vaccinated against COVID-19, because if you get COVID, which of course you could, even with the vaccine, the risk of you having long-term COVID symptoms or long term is much less,” he said.
COVID-19 in numbers
Currently, 34 new cases have been reported by the Lubbock County Center for Disease Control, with an average of seven new cases per day. The general trend in cases over the past 30 days has shown that the number of new cases is slowing.
According to the State of Texas COVID-19 Immunization Dashboard for Texas Health and Human Services, 49.14% of children age 6 and older received both doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the vaccine single-dose Johnson & Johnson in Lubbock County. .
About 83.68% of people age 65 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to Texas Health and Human and Services. Additionally, 75.61% of the state of Texas has been vaccinated.