People with ‘long COVID’ may experience abnormal breathing patterns, chronic fatigue syndrome

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In a new study from Mount Sinai, researchers found many long-haul COVID-19 patients have chronic fatigue syndrome and other breathing issues months after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical condition that can often occur after a viral infection and cause fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness and depression.

Many COVID-19 patients, some of who were never hospitalized, have reported persistent symptoms after they recover from their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.

These patients have PASC (Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection) but are more commonly referred to as “long-haulers.”

In this study, researchers looked at 41 patients (23 women, 18 men) with an age range of 23 to 69 years.

Patients were referred to the prospective study by pulmonologists or cardiologists and all had normal pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, chest CT scans and echocardiograms.

Patients had been previously diagnosed with acute COVID-19 infection for a range of three to 15 months and continued to experience unexplained shortness of breath.

The team found almost all the patients (88%) exhibited abnormal breathing patterns referred to as dysfunctional breathing.

Dysfunctional breathing is most commonly observed in asthmatic patients and is defined as rapid, shallow breathing. Patients also had low CO2 values at rest and with exercise, suggesting chronic hyperventilation.

In addition, most of the patients (58%) had evidence of circulatory impairment to peak exercise performance from either cardiac dysfunction and/or abnormal pulmonary or peripheral perfusion.

These findings suggest that in a subgroup of long haulers, hyperventilation and/or dysfunctional breathing may underlie their symptoms.

The team says this is important as these abnormalities may be addressed with breathing exercises or ‘retraining’.

If you care about long COVID, please read studies about lung maintains long-term memory of COVID infection and findings of long COVID linked to more bacteria in your mouth.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about your eyes can show signs of ‘long COVID’ and results showing that more than people get ‘long COVID’.

The study is published in JACC: Heart Failure. One author of the study is Donna M. Mancini, MD.

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