During the first few months after COVID-19 became a common vocabulary term globally, surviving the highly infectious and potentially deadly virus was the primary focus. However, as the virus continued to spread it became clear that not everyone was recovering from it, and even those whose initial infections were considered mild were suffering long-term repercussions of it.
Now, the term “long hauler” is recognized around the world, identifying those people who are suffering scary symptoms of the virus for months on end. Inspired by a moving New York Times story published on Monday, we collected the symptoms mentioned. Read on to see if you have any of these symptoms, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“Many people who have recovered from SARS have gone on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest. The same may be true for people who have had Covid-19,” the Mayo Clinic recently reported. The NYT tells the story of Judy Londa, a 55-year-old Brooklyn art teacher who developed symptoms in March. Six months later, she is still experiencing one of the most common long-hauler symptoms: exhaustion and fatigue. She revealed to the publication that walking up a short hill proves to be completely exhausting, despite the fact that she was an “athletic, energetic, healthy woman” prior to the infection. “I will feel better for about five days and able to walk a mile or more and do yoga, then I’m flattened again for another five days,” she revealed.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and can wreak major damage on the longs, even scarring their tiny lung sacs, reports the NYT. They bring up the case of 107-year-old Marilee Shapiro Asher, whose lung damage resulted in her death several months after her initial infection. “I’m about to fall asleep, then suddenly start gasping for air like I’m drowning, and I have to get up and walk. It’s really, really depressing,” Londa explained about the symptom.
Because COVID-19 damages the lungs, heart and brain, it increases the risk of persistent health problems—especially cardiovascular. The Mayo Clinic explains that “Imaging tests taken months after recovery from Covid-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who had only mild Covid-19 symptoms.”
Londa explains that she has been experiencing “a heart flutter caused by extra beats in one of the heart’s pumping chambers.
Londa revealed that after her COVID-19 infection, she started experiencing heart complications that had never arisen before. These included pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
A number of brain-related complications have been reported by long haulers. The most common include strokes, seizures and a Guillain-Barré-like syndrome, which results in temporary paralysis.
Loss of taste and smell is a very common symptom of an active COVID-19 infection. However, long after they recover many people fail to have their senses reinstated.
Health experts also maintain that some COVID-19 survivors—especially those who suffered a severe infection, resulting in a long ICU visit or required ventilator use—are developing post-traumatic stress syndrome and/or anxiety and depression. Londa reveals she is still experiencing “unresolved anxiety stemming from the acute illness” and “a fear that she may never again be the person she was before Covid.”
Experts also reveal that the trauma of their infection can result in “recurrent nightmares and a fear of being alone and even of going to sleep,” reports the NYT.
Other extremely common long hauler symptoms experienced by Londa were brain fog and memory issues. A recent survey of long haulers found that 924 out of 1,567 surveyed reported a difficulty concentrating or focusing long after the virus was out of their system.
A prolonged cough was another symptom experienced by Londa—as well as 577 of those surveyed in the Long Hauler Survey. The cough is likely a result of the damage to the body’s respiratory system.
The Long Hauler Survey identifies temperature irregularities as a common issue with survivors. 475 people reported night sweats, 441 fever or chills, and 91 an abnormally low temperature.
Another symptom that doesn’t seem to go away for many long haulers—including Londa—is a sore throat. According to the survey, 496—about one-third– reported it as an ongoing symptom.
609 of those surveyed in the Long Hauler survey reported persistent chest pain or pressure. “Cement is pushing on my chest,” Londa explained the feeling.
Londa revealed that she experienced “tingling” in her arm. Neuropathy in limbs has been commonly reported by survivors. As for yourself, if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.