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Post-Covid Syndrome Part 1 of 2

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Post-Covid Syndrome

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Post-Covid Syndrome Part 1 of 2

Tens of thousands of people, collectively known as “long-haulers”, have been suffering for months with unrelenting and unpredictable symptoms long after having Covid-19.  Hand tremors, fevers, night sweats, gastrointestinal problems, severe morning nausea, extreme fatigue, bulging veins, excessive bruising, erratic heartbeat, short-term memory loss, gynecological problems, sensitivity to light and sound, and brain fog are among the many reported symptoms.

Based on results of a survey of 1,400 long-haulers by a hospital physician who cares for them, most are women with an average age of 44, and most were formerly fit and healthy, unlike the typical picture of a Covid -19 patient – an elderly person with preexisting health problems.

A few formal studies have hinted at lingering Covid-19 damage.  In an Italian study, 87% of hospitalized patients still had symptoms after two months; a British study found similar trends.  A German study that included many patients who recovered at home found that 78% had heart abnormalities after two or three months.  A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a third of 270 non-hospitalized patients hadn’t returned to their usual state of health after two weeks.  In comparison, roughly 90% of people who get the flu recover completely within that time frame.

Many long-haulers have symptoms that resemble dysautonomia, an umbrella term for disorders that disturb the autonomic nervous system.  This system controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.  Whether inflicted by the virus itself or by an overly intense immune response, damage to this system causes bodily functions that were once automatic to become erratic.  Most long-haulers also have “post-exertional malaise”, a defining symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, in which even mild bouts of physical or mental exertion can trigger a severe physiological crash (like walking up a flight of stairs and being out of commission for two days).

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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