COVID-19 long haulers have emerged as an unexpected complication of the pandemic. The phenomenon of lingering symptoms after recovery from the acute issue continues to reveal its impact as we are able to study it. We now find some patients who are ‘long haulers’, having problems after the acute illness has passed that seriously affect their quality of life. These symptoms can persist after testing negative for the virus.
The long hauler’s syndrome is also known as Post-COVID, Long COVID, or Post-acute COVID Syndrome. Its symptoms can be debilitating, persisting for weeks and longer.
Of course we are still in the early stages of learning about the impact of COVID-19 over the long term, but the post-acute phase of the illness is gaining medical and research attention quickly. UC Davis Health Services, for example, now has a ‘long haulers clinic’. * Patient care is determined by medical practitioners working with cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, neurology, rheumatology and immunology.
As yet, there is no identifiable link between long haulers except that all have been positive for COVID-19 in the past and then tested negative for it.
Practitioners at UC Davis have found that the Post-acute COVID Syndrome can effect anyone who has contracted the illness. They report seeing patients who are old and young; otherwise healthy people, and those with co-existing conditions; people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and those who had only mild symptoms not requiring hospitalization.
Long hauler symptoms can include:
- Chronic and sometimes debilitating fatigue
- Body aches
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of taste and smell
- Sleep disruptions
- Poor concentration