For COVID-19 ‘long haulers,’ recovery questions remain
For those who have contracted COVID-19, the effects can differ. Some recover slower than others, and some are still coping with the lingering effects for months. They’re called ”long haulers.”
MILWAUKEE – For those who have contracted COVID-19, the effects can differ.
Some recover slower than others, and some are still coping with the lingering effects for months. They’re called ”long haulers.”
After Lona Towsley contracted COVID-19 in April 2020, she didn’t know if she’d see 2021.
“I didn’t think I was going to come out of it. It was to the point where you could feel your lungs fill up,” said Towsley.
She survived cancer twice, and now she’s survived the coronavirus. But some COVID-19 symptoms remain 11 months later. She’s considered a long hauler.
“When I go outside, I definitely have to have my face covered. It just, it hurts my lungs so bad,” she said.
Dr. Aurora Pop-Vicas, UW Health infectious disease specialist, says every patient is different.
“Some patients gradually recover over a few weeks, a couple of months. Others still have residual lingering symptoms over, maybe, several months,” said Pop-Vicas.
Pop-Vicas said there are two main types of long haulers: Patients who have been in the hospital for weeks or months or on life support, and those who recover at home but still experience symptoms after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
There seems to be at least one common symptom among those who’ve had COVID-19.
“Almost everyone cites fatigue, debilitating fatigue,” Pop-Vicas said.
Other symptoms include shortness of breath, anxiety, chest pain and brain fog.
Pop-Vicas went on to say, understanding how long symptoms last and why COVID affects each patient differently and it is still being studied.
When it comes to treatment for those lingering symptoms, Pop-Vicas said: “Depending on how severe their syndrome is, they do gradually improve with symptomatic treatment, with an individualized rehab plan, with a holistic approach to health.”
As for Towsley, she says sometimes she still needs her oxygen tank but she remains hopeful she’ll fully recover soon.
“I know my breathing is a lot better. My doctor said it could take a year or more. We just don’t know,” Towsley said.
Other lingering symptoms for those recovering from COVID-19 include headaches, brain fog, anxiety and depression.
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