Disturbing Coronavirus Symptoms in Older Adults: Doctors Grapple with COVID-19 “Long-Haulers”

long-term COVID-19 risks, after effects, lingering, brain fog

We reported on some of the disturbing coronavirus symptoms that older Americans experience. Now there is new disturbing new evidence that in some cases, COVID-19 symptoms linger for a long time. 

In a CDC survey, 35 percent of people were found to still have COVID-19 symptoms well after being diagnosed with the virus. And in a British Medical Association survey, one-third of doctors said they had treated patients with long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

Experts are calling these sufferers “long-haulers”, and the symptoms include fatigue, hair loss, and more. Around 600,000 people are suffering from “Long COVID” or post-COVID syndrome, in which symptoms last longer than three months after contracting the virus. 

Long COVID symptoms

Symptoms can vary from person to person and day by day, but these are some of the more common lingering symptoms reported:

  • Chest pain
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Mental health issues – PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • Dysautonomia – miscommunication between the autonomic nervous system and the rest of the body, which can affect breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion
  • Low functioning immune cells
  • High heart rate when standing up
  • Migraines
  • Numbness in feet and hands
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Fever
  • Post-exertional malaise

Doctors attempt to figure out the mystery

The problem is that since COVID-19 is only 6 months old, doctors don’t yet know quite what is going on. Many can be dismissive and say that a patient is doing just fine when in fact they are experiencing many unpredictable physical symptoms each day. Even friends, family, and coworkers can be disbelieving that symptoms last that long. 

The British group LongCovidSOS has launched their own campaign to try to get recognition for the long haulers and garner more funds for research and support. Online support groups on Facebook, Slack, and elsewhere have been formed. A stumbling block to research is that many of these long-haulers are testing negative; however, there are current studies in the works on groups of long-haulers. 

Post-COVID syndrome is approaching being considered a disability, but there is no proof as of yet for people to show their doctors and employers what is going on. It is yet to be seen whether Social Security and Medicare will recognize this as a medical syndrome or disability. 

Nisreen Alwan of the University of Southampton, who has been suffering from coronavirus since March 20, told The Atlantic, “We cannot fight what we do not measure. Death is not the only thing that counts. We must also count lives changed.”

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