You may know people struggling with long COVID...when symptoms linger more than 4 weeks after initial infection.
COVID-19 can leave lasting effects anywhere in the body...causing brain fog, diarrhea, shortness of breath, etc.
Problems seem to be more common in those who’ve had severe COVID-19 (hospitalized, etc), a repeat infection, or are unvaccinated.
But even people who had mild or no symptoms can be affected.
And symptoms can be vague...can come and go or worsen with activity...and may take months to improve.
There’s still a lot to learn about long COVID...and there’s no proven treatment yet.
Symptoms should be managed as they would be otherwise. For example, acetaminophen or an NSAID (ibuprofen, etc) may be used for headache...honey for cough...or loperamide for diarrhea.
Nondrug measures should also be tried...such as meditation or limiting caffeine for sleep problems.
Continue to advocate for COVID-19 vaccination...it’s the best bet at prevention and reducing long COVID risk.
But be aware, there’s no good evidence that COVID-19 vaccines improve symptoms if given to those WITH long COVID.
Urge high-risk individuals (diabetes, etc) who get COVID-19 to get treated ASAP...to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.
Plus preliminary data suggest that starting Paxlovid within 5 days of infection may also reduce risk of long COVID.
You may hear that metformin started within 3 days of infection lowers the potential for developing long COVID. But this is also based on preliminary data...and it’s too soon for widespread use.
Encourage anyone who wants to contribute to research about long COVID to explore RecoverCOVID.org.
- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html (3-30-23)
- https://www.covid.gov/assets/files/Services-and-Supports-for-Longer-Term-Impacts-of-COVID-19-08012022.pdf (3-30-23)
- https://www.idsociety.org/covid-19-real-time-learning-network/disease-manifestations--complications/post-covid-syndrome/ (3-30-23)
- https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/docs/Whole-Health-System-Approach-to-Long-COVID_080122_FINAL.pdf (3-30-23)
- https://www.who.int/europe/publications/i/item/WHO-EURO-2021-855-40590-59892 (3-30-23)