Long COVID is now an established–and deeply concerning–outcome of getting the COVID-19 virus. People with long COVID may experience debilitating symptoms long after “recovering” from infection, and the consequences are far-reaching. “This isn’t a sprain or strain where somebody turns an ankle and we know in x amount of months, they’re going to be at this point,” says Roberta Etcheverry, CEO of Diversified Management Group, a disability management consulting firm. “It’s not — somebody was helping move a patient, and they hurt their back, and they can’t do that kind of work anymore. They need to do something else.” Here are five warning signs of long COVID, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Chronic, long-term fatigue is one of the most common signs of long COVID, doctors warn. “It’s been shocking,” says Alex Truong, MD. “I’ve never seen, with other infections, such widespread, all-over-the-body symptoms for this long.”
Ongoing brain fog could be a symptom of long COVID. “We found that even mild COVID can cause prominent inflammation in the brain that dysregulates brain cells and would be expected to contribute to cognitive impairment,” says Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Research shows people can experience depression and anxiety a full year after being infected with COVID-19. “Most of us experienced some sort of mental distress during the pandemic, but this shows that people with COVID-19 had a much higher risk of mental health disorders than their contemporaries,” says Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis and chief of research at the VA St. Louis Health Care system. “It’s a wake-up call.”
Millions of people are still experiencing changes to their taste and smell after getting COVID-19.
“Having these now millions more people worldwide with decreased ability to smell — that may simply be a new public health crisis,” says rhinologist Dr. Zara Patel.
“They tend to be distraught about the loss of sense of smell. It’s such an important part of our every day and what makes us human,” says rhinologist Dr. Aria Jafari. “The most common thing I hear is that it leads to social isolation and feeling disconnected from the world and society as they know it. And that can be really bothersome.”
Insomnia and other sleep disorders have been reported as signs of long COVID. “Sleep disorders are one of the most common symptoms for patients who’ve had COVID-19,” says sleep medicine specialist Cinthya Pena Orbea, MD. “They report insomnia, fatigue, brain fog and sometimes we even see circadian rhythm disorders.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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