COVID-19 Gone Sideways

Imagine you get COVID-19. The dreaded disease came knocking at your door, and your body’s immune system, with all it’s vaccine defenses, dropped the ball, and let it in. Fever, aches and pains, and fatigue, never ending fatigue. You sleep for a couple days straight, taking vitamin C, D and zinc, getting up for essential food and bathroom breaks, and in a matter of a week, start feeling like your old self. You are weak because you have been eating soup or hardly eating, but your fever has broken and your energy is slowly but surely coming back. That’s the way a good COVID scenario should look like. Unfortunately, not all COVID cases have such happy endings.

We’ve all heard about the COVID experience that lands someone in hospital on a ventilator, fighting for their life. But doctors and scientists are finding out that there is another way for COVID-19 to go sideways: Long COVID. Long COVID affects a significant portion of people who have recovered from COVID-19, and is changing lives around America.

What is Long COVID?

The technical name for Long COVID is Post Acute Sequelae SARS-CoV-2-infection (PASC), or Post COVID Syndrome. Long COVID is a condition characterized by COVID symptoms lasting long after the initial infection. To better understand the extent of how long Long COVID can actually last, scientists have broken it down into stages:

  1. Acute COVID- Average recovery 4-6 weeks
  2. Ongoing Symptomatic COVID- Symptoms last 4-12 weeks- includes chronic acute or subacute symptoms that have affected organ systems (3-6 months)
  3. Post COVID-19 Syndrome or Long COVID- Symptoms continue beyond 12 weeks and may develop into new or permanent health conditions

Who can get Long COVID?

Long COVID is a case of true “Random Selection”. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 recover within weeks of initial infection, but an unlucky 10-20% experience COVID symptoms well past their initial infection. Anyone who has been infected with COVID-19 is at risk of Long COVID. Doctors have not found any rhyme or reason as to why some people experience Long COVID and others do not. The severity of the initial infection and symptoms does not indicate whether someone will experience Long COVID. Even those that experienced “asymptomatic” COVID-19 can end up with Long COVID.

Symptoms of Long COVID

Common symptoms of Long COVID include fatigue, breathlessness, a decline in mental capacity, neurological issues, blood clots, seizures, and spiking high heart rates after performing everyday tasks. The symptoms of Long COVID are diverse, and the list is long with over 200 different ailments across 10 organ systems, including the brain, heart, and lungs. The most frequently reported symptoms of Long COVID-19 are fatigue, shortness of breath and reduced mental capacity, or brain fog. Long COVID that lasts over six months can cause damage to organ systems and give rise to new conditions.

How long can Long-COVID last?

COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020, and the earliest known patients having Long COVID have been recovering from the disease for 1.5 years. It will take time for doctors and scientists to truly understand what causes Long COVID, and how to better prevent or mitigate its occurrence. 

Effects of Long COVID

Long  COVID is changing lives. Once healthy and active individuals are finding themselves breathless after performing the most basic tasks, like getting dressed, and eating meals, not to mention the frequently reported brain fog. Long COVID may last for months on end, or even be permanent. 

The effects of Long COVID extend beyond mental and physical health. Many suffering from the debilitating symptoms are forced to go on long term disability or leave their jobs. For single earner families, Long COVID is a health calamity that spills into financial catastrophe for the whole family. 

How to protect yourself from Long COVID

Anyone who catches COVID-19 is at risk of having the disease spiral into Long COVID. Scientists are yet to reach a conclusion on what factors make people more at risk. Long COVID is a medical mystery, the only common denominator is having had COVID-19. 

Protecting yourself from Long COVID is all about protecting yourself from COVID-19. According to the CDC, “Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can also prevent serious illness and death.” Mask wearing and physical distancing also continue to be effective ways of avoiding infection.

Necessity for a Primary Care Physician

The occurrence of Long COVID is a relevant and fitting reason to have a Primary Care Physician. Primary Care Physicians are the point guard, or quarter back around which the “team model” treatment of specialists revolves around. 

A Primary Care Physician is your physician that has the most comprehensive understanding of your medical history, including family medical history and lifestyle. In the case of Long COVID, your Primary Care Physician will know if the symptoms you are experiencing are ongoing from a past diagnosis or if they are new symptoms, or if you have past medical conditions that may affect the severity of the illness. Your Primary Care Physician will also know your personal situation, supports you have (or do not have) at home, your employment and financial situation and your daily routines. A Primary Care Physician is a patient’s home base of care, and based on every patient’s unique situation, is able to assist patients with resources in the form of specialist doctors, supplementary tests and procedures, as well as provide support to help patients work through their symptoms and recover. 

At Synergy Health Advisors, we pride ourselves in being the Primary Care Physician for many patients in the New Jersey region. As your Primary Care Physician, we take time to understand your unique story, family history, current health issues and goals to improve your wellbeing. We are your “doctor by your side”,  through the stages of life, always understanding your unique situation and guiding you to improve your lifestyle and wellbeing. If you do not have a Primary Care Physician, or have not touched base with your Primary care Physician for a while, there is no better time than now to set up an appointment for yourself, give Synergy Health Advisors a call today.