In a new study from Mount Sinai, researchers found people suffering from “long COVID” can have symptoms that last a year or more. Many cannot do their jobs and everyday routines.
They examined more than 150 people with long-lasting effects from COVID-19 and found these patients reported thinking problems, fatigue, brain fog, headache, sleep problems and dizziness.
The majority of people had been sick for at least a year, and were still seeing significant difficulty in life participation, feelings of general wellness and health, ability to socialize and ability to perform daily tasks.
The cause of long COVID isn’t clear. It’s possible the virus is still causing reactions months later or perhaps it has altered the immune system and that’s what’s causing these persistent symptoms.
These symptoms are real physical reactions to the virus and not caused by mental or emotional problems.
In the study, the team looked at 156 patients treated for long COVID between March 2020 and March 2021.
Participants completed a questionnaire that asked about various symptoms and what they believe triggered them a median of 351 days post-infection. None had been vaccinated at the time of the study.
The team found more than 8 out of 10 respondents were still bothered by fatigue, brain fog (67%), headache (60%), sleep disturbance (59%) and dizziness (54%).
The further evaluation found that 60% of the patients had some degree of mental impairment, such as diminished short-term memory, difficulty remembering names and problems with decision-making and daily planning.
Of the 135 patients who answered questions about employment, 102 had worked full-time before getting sick, but only 55—roughly half—continued working afterward.
Also, the researchers found the biggest trigger of symptoms was physical exertion (reported by 86% of patients), followed by stress (69%), dehydration (49%) and weather changes (37%).
According to the team, rehabilitation for long COVID consists of several steps to identify—and avoid—triggers.
It also involves gentle exercises to help reprogram the autonomic nervous system, which regulates critical involuntary functions of the body.
Researchers suggest that COVID-19 vaccination, even after suffering from the disease, might help prevent long COVID.
If you care about long COVID, please read studies about long COVID more likely in these people and findings of long COVID: symptoms experienced during infection may predict lasting illness.
For more information about long COVID and your health, please see recent studies about many people with mild COVID-19 still have long-term symptoms and results showing that signs of ‘long COVID’ can be found in eyes.
The study is published in the American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. One author of the study is David Putrino.
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