COVID Long Hauler
A 2020 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that it may take weeks for COVID-19 symptoms to completely resolve. While this is the case for some patients, others have experienced COVID-19 symptoms for months after contracting the virus. The exact definition of a COVID long hauler varies. Patients with symptoms 12 weeks after diagnosis are generally considered “COVID Long Hauler’s”.
To put this in perspective, over 90% of people discharged from the hospital with influenza usually recover within 2 weeks – so why do COVID-19 symptoms last longer in some individuals?
Mounting evidence suggests that many people may continue to experience symptoms related to COVID-19 long after their initial infection. Although it is still unclear how many people have experienced long COVID, data from the COVID Symptom Study app suggest that 1 in 10 people experience symptoms for up to 3 weeks. Others even experience lingering symptoms for up to 3 months and beyond.
What is Long Haul COVID?
Long-haul COVID is a condition where people continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms for longer than usual after initially contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While there is little known so far about why symptoms last longer in some individuals, long-haul COVID is a real condition that affects people in different ways.
Mild cases of COVID-19 usually recover within 1–2 weeks of contracting the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. For severe cases of COVID-19, recovery can take 6 weeks or longer. Currently, researchers may define post-acute COVID-19 as symptoms that extend longer than 3 weeks since onset. Others define chronic COVID-19 as symptoms that extend beyond 12 weeks since onset with symptoms that can last for up to two months.
Overall, long-haul COVID-19 is a condition that is relatively misunderstood thus far. While researchers understand that the condition is something that exists, no one is quite sure exactly why these symptoms are lasting for so long in affected individuals. As we will discuss later in this piece, the damage to cells and organ tissue that COVID potentially causes is a leading theory on why symptoms such as muscle aches, fatigue, and joint pain.
Symptoms of Long-Haul COVID
The symptoms of long-haul COVID are very similar to the main symptoms the virus causes. The most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 by the CDC include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
Additional symptoms that are more noticeable over the long-term may include:
- Brain fog
- Muscle aches and pains
- Fevers that come and go
- Heart palpitations
There are also other concerns of long-haul symptoms that affect the organs. While these are less common, they include:
- Inflammation of the heart muscle
- Irregular lung function
- Hair loss
- Sleep issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Smell and taste issues
Possible Causes of Long-Haul COVID
While researchers are still unsure of the main causes of long-term COVID-19 symptoms, some of the possible causes could be:
- Reduced immune system activity
Many who are studying COVID suspect that COVID causes damage to the organs, which leads to some long-term side effects. These researchers believe that these side effects are being confused with lasting symptoms of a viral infection. So far, this is one of the leading hypotheses that explain why COVID symptoms maybe lasting for so long. If true, this hypothesis would have new implications of the COVID virus and help us understand more about the complexity of effects that COVID has on our physiology.
COVID-19 may also cause long-lasting changes to the immune system which can negatively affect many of these organs. These changes, particularly in the lungs, may last longer than the time it takes for the body to remove the virus.
These could include post-intensive care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and long-term or post-COVID-19 syndrome. It is suspected that some people may be experiencing more than one syndrome at a time as well.
Long-Haul COVID Management
Due to the uncertain nature of long-haul COVID, a guided treatment plan tailored to your specific needs should be follwed. Mobile Care offers COVID Long Hauler treatment protocols. The first one is focused on macrophage/monocyte repolarization and mast cell stabilization. This is combined with powerful anti-inflammatory drugs and reduction in oxidative stress. Protocol two uses NAD+ and liposomal supplements to reduce chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) pills or pellets are also used for reduction in chronic inflammation. If you have tested positive for COVID in the past and are experiencing symptoms, months after your positive test and or hospitalization, please contact Dr. Jake for a free consult.
The most effective course of action is to lead a healthy lifestyle that allows immune system recovery. This includes getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy, staying active, minimizing stress, and limiting alcohol intake and smoking. Your provider should document symptoms, and understand how they change, be alert to new symptoms, and provide targeted care. People may also find it helpful to connect with a support network. This is especially true when long haul COVID is affecting their mental health, financial security, or social well-being.
Recovery and How To Seek Help for Long-Haul COVID-19
If you are concerned that you are experiencing long-haul COVID, locate a provider experienced in managing long haul COVID. While these symptoms may not be able to be healed overnight, engaging in proper treatment and management procedures can help give you a better chance at kicking long-haul COVID for good.
As more people discuss their experience of long COVID, some countries are beginning to provide more support. In the U.K., for example, a COVID Recovery resource from the National Health Service (NHS) is now available in addition to support groups such as LongCovidSOS.
In the United States, the following support groups may provide help for those experiencing long COVID symptoms:
It is currently unclear how long recovery from long COVID may take. Patients may experiencing symptoms years after a positive test result. Long-haul COVID is a difficult condition to have, due to a lack of research. While the medical community continues to study patients after a positive test, patients still require treatment.