As we all begin to emerge from the COVID fog, many of us wonder what life will be like post-pandemic? For those who have endured a positive COVID test and dealt with the effects of the virus, what does this mean for their health in the long term? What about COVID long-haulers?
Will there ever be “normal” again? What does this normal look like anyway? Innova Primary Care will continue to stay abreast of the most recent data and information, allowing us to treat our patients the best way we can.
The challenging truth is there is so much we do not know. But we are learning. And we promise to pass that information along to you.
There are so many questions about what life will be like now that COVID is not raging as it was only one year ago. A quick Google search on what life will look like after the pandemic is incredibly insightful. From new health ordinances to changes within the business world and the education system, so much will undoubtedly change. The scope of this post will address those with lingering side effects post-COVID.
The reality is that we are not that far removed from the very first case of COVID.
Because of this, there aren’t longitudinal studies to provide us with information about what the long-term effects of COVID will be. We simply do not have the data to provide concrete answers, but we believe that that information is coming. Currently, multi-year studies are researching the after-effects of COVID. Once we have more definitive information, we will know what to look for regarding potential long-term side effects.
We do know that some people will recover within 2-3 weeks while others will continue to experience symptoms for many months.
There is one population that is concerning to many: those with lingering symptoms. The term “long-hauler” refers to someone who has recovered from the most severe symptoms of COVID yet continues to experience effects. According to UC Davis Health, anyone can have long-term effects. There seems to be no rhyme or reason why some recover promptly. Others continue to suffer long after they no longer test positive for the virus. Long-haulers can vary in age, ethnicity, and severity of symptoms, making this an incredibly puzzling aspect. Some with underlying conditions present fall within the long-hauler group, while others are in excellent health.
Physicians cannot anticipate who will experience long-term effects and who will not.
For many within this specific category, life after COVID remains a challenge. They experience an array of symptoms, some seemingly not connected with COVID. However, the data we do have shows that many people suffer enduring health struggles well past their initial diagnoses.
For these patients, the fear and anxiety resulting from ongoing problems is legitimate thing. In theory, they are in recovery from COVID, yet the often-alarming symptoms after a negative test are frightening. Many long-haul patients wonder if they are making these things up. Do they really feel the way they do? Are the brain fog and shortness of breath something related to COVID or something else entirely? It can be hard to tell if these symptoms are connected somehow to their previous illness.
It is estimated around 10% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 go on to experience long-haul symptoms.
What continues to stifle medical professionals is the vast array of symptoms individuals may experience, such as:
Loss of taste
Loss of smell
Shortness of breath
Not every patient presenting with long-term side effects will have every condition on the list-making a diagnosis a challenge for health practitioners. This information, coupled with the reality that there is not yet a concrete definition for this condition, makes understanding how and why it happens a challenge.
While we are still working to understand the complex issues associated with life post-COVID, here is what we do know: If you are experiencing symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider and get a plan together. Your medical team must rule out any other potential health issues. If you have any new symptoms whatsoever, call your physician.
First of all, trust your instincts. Do not dismiss your health concerns. While these new or worsening symptoms may not be related to COVID, they might be. Take control of your health and schedule an appointment with your physician.
Once you have met with your medical team, more test and assessments may be necessary to confirm a long-haul diagnosis. On June 14, 2021, the CDC put out guidelines for healthcare providers caring for patients who have post-COVID health issues. These guidelines suggest that primary caregivers, like Innova Primary Care, are the gatekeepers for their patients. While additional diagnostic measures may be needed, and you may need to meet with specialists, it is important to note that no single diagnostic test can tell you whether or not you are indeed a long-haul patient. Instead, your healthcare provider can address the individual symptoms and create a patient-centered approach to treatment.
As we continue to learn more about the effects of COVID, we will have more answers. In the meantime, be sure to be proactive about your health. Ask questions and seek answers. This isn’t all in your head. Innova Primary Care is here to support our patients every step of the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to serve you.