Since coronavirus swept into the U.S. earlier this year and Michigan in March, COVID-19 has killed more than 6,300 Michiganders with 84,000 testing positive. As of Aug. 12, the U.S. had the most deaths in the world at 165,000 and positive cases at 5.2 million. Worldwide, 745,000 have died with 20.4 million testing positive.
Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said post-viral COVID-19 syndrome is fast becoming a patient care problem that doctors are beginning to address.
“Brain fog, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating,” said Fauci at a recent International AIDS Conference describing the new COVID-19 associated symptoms. “So this is something we really need to seriously look at.”
There are no FDA-approved treatments for post-viral syndrome, but experts say patients suffering from it after a bout of COVID-19 can develop a severe illness that may take weeks to overcome.
A June paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 87 percent of patients in Italy who have recovered from COVID still have at least one persistent symptom, particularly fatigue and dyspnea, or labored breathing. Of 179 eligible patients, 44 percent were observed to have worsened quality of life.
These so-called “coronavirus long-haulers” have symptoms that include fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain and joint pain, the JAMA paper said.
Nationally, a growing number of patients on social media groups like Facebook’s “Long COVID Support Group” have freewheeling discussions about their lingering symptoms.
They share and discuss mild problems that include continued loss of taste or smell to more serious ones such as irregular heart beats, unusual chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, memory or cognitive difficulties or recurring fevers.
Here are two examples of postings in early August.
“Hang in there, everyone. Even Dr. Fauci is now speaking up about post-viral symptoms and Covid long-haulers. Like many of you, I’ve been frustrated not only with my on-going post-viral symptoms, but also with my doctors nonchalant response and lack of help. This article gives me some hope that more in the medical community will start to listen and help.”
Another COVID-19 patient said the following:
“I took a massive sudden turn for the worse at lunchtime today just hanging the washing out. I had bad heart pain and palpitations, chest pain, back pain, dizziness, I just couldn’t breathe, felt really sick, clammy and my legs felt like they were going to give way. I was so scared I called 911 who sent the paramedics out.”
“They were looking for signs of sepsis but were happy I didn’t have any but advised about a possible readmission (to a COVID-19 ICU). This isn’t a place you want to be and I’ve been in no hurry to go back (after 17 weeks). I’m terrified of picking up another illness (or even Covid again) as I haven’t got the reserves to fight anything else off and do feel safer at home.”