While many who get sick with COVID-19 recover, there are some people who aren’t getting better.  Medical experts say these patients can struggle with serious long-term effects, even though they had a milder form of the virus.  

Unfortunately, there are some people who are considered to be “mildly symptomatic”, yet their symptoms continue to linger weeks, even months after they were diagnosed.  And it’s affecting their quality of life.  Now as to what might be going on, well we don’t really know yet.  Having said that, there are some potential reasons.  It’s possible that they have a complication of the virus or a secondary infection.  It’s also possible that the virus is still in the body somewhere and it’s just not detectable with current testing.   There’s also something called “post-viral inflammatory syndrome”.  That’s when the body’s immune system continues to stay “gassed up” despite the fact that the virus is gone.   Plus, it’s possible that inflammation might have damaged the autonomic nervous system.  Which could then affect heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and sleep.

What are some of these symptoms?

There are a wide range of symptoms that folks can struggle with, for example:

  • extreme fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • intermittent fevers
  • persistent aches and pains
  • trouble concentrating
  • headaches
  • chest pains and heart palpitations

So you can imagine how debilitating these symptoms could be.  And many of these folks are wondering if they’ll ever get better.  Or if they’re now dealing with a chronic disease.

What about treatment or therapies that might help these people?

Well, since these people were not sick enough to be hospitalized, there really is no approved drug or treatment for them right now.  Here’s what I do, I tell my patients who are not feeling well to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, get plenty of rest and if they have a fever, to take fever-reducing medicine.  I also stress how important it is to eat right because healthy foods feed the immune system.  Now, it may feel like the virus has been around forever.  But it hasn’t which means that we’re still learning what recover for COVID-19 looks like.  The good news is that major medical facilities are now tracking these patients to get a better understanding of their illness.  And I expect that research will show not only why these symptoms persist, but ways we can help treat these patients as well.