CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The CDC is tracking a new line of the COVID-19 virus. According to the lab, it has more than 30 mutations in total … which is much more than any other COVID variant circulating. This comes at a time when COVID hospitalizations are beginning to rise … up to more than six thousand a week. For one in every five people who get COVID, the symptoms persist for months—if not years. New research out of northwestern medicine finds that millions of people who tested negative for the virus may actually have long COVID.
We are learning more about long COVID — why it happens, who it targets and how to treat it.
Brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, breathing problems, muscle aches, heart issues – the symptoms of long COVID can be life-changing.
Neurologist Igor Koralnik Is part of a team who studied more than 18 hundred long COVID patients.
Doctor Koralnik says, “More than 90 percent of patients that we see in the clinic are people who have never been hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia.”
Their study found 83 percent of patients had abnormal CT chest scans, 51 percent – cognitive impairment, 45 percent – altered lung function and 12 percent had an elevated heart rate. Long COVID has become the third leading neurologic disorder in the US. Thirty million have been affected.
“Among previously hospitalized patients, the average age is 54. But among people who had never been hospitalized, with a mild case of COVID-19 initially, the average age is 44.”
And surprisingly … Long COVID hits women in their forties, who were never hospitalized earlier due to COVID.
“We think that long COVID is a new autoimmune disease which is caused by the virus.” Explains Doctor Koralnik.
Women are four times more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases. Now Doctor Koralnik encourages patients to keep looking for a customized treatment that works for them.
Researchers at Northwestern are looking at biomarkers in the blood to see if they hold answers as to why one person’s symptoms linger on, while others recover quickly. Doctor Koralnik says that although the COVID-19 vaccine continues to save lives, they do not believe it has an impact on whether or not a person will get long COVID.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Kirk Manson, Videographer.
LONG LASTING EFFECTS OF COVID-19: WHO, WHY AND HOW?
BACKGROUND: People who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 may experience long-term effects from the infection, known as Long COVID. Long COVID is broadly defined as signs, symptoms, and conditions that continue or develop after an acute COVID-19 infection. Most people with Long COVID experienced symptoms days after first learning they had the virus, but some people who later experienced Long COVID did not know when they got infected. There is no test that determines if the symptoms or condition are due to COVID-19. For some people, Long COVID can last weeks, months, or years after COVID-19 and can sometimes result in disability. People with Long COVID may experience health problems from different types and combinations of symptoms that may emerge, persist, resolve, and reemerge over different lengths of time. However, most patients’ symptoms slowly improve with time.
LIVING WITH LONG COVID: Severe cases of Long COVID can affect the body’s organs. Imaging tests don’t always show the origins of those symptoms which can be debilitating such as chronic pain, brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain, and intense fatigue. “There is no one pill or strategy that helps everybody,” says neurologist Lindsay McAlpine, M.D., director of the Yale NeuroCovid Clinic. There is a growing understanding that people experience the condition in different ways which leads to an individualized approach to treating the symptoms. A new program out of the Yale New Haven Long COVID Multidisciplinary Care Center adds a multidisciplinary approach. Patients are evaluated and, if necessary, referred to cardiologists, neurologists, pulmonologists, rheumatologists, and other specialists who have experience treating the condition. The program also offers on-site physical therapy and social work services because Long COVID can affect relationships, finances, job security, and quality of life.
NEW CLINICAL TRIAL FOR LONG COVID: Research studies underway are aimed at defining long COVID’s characteristics, identifying its causes, and testing therapeutic interventions that might treat it or prevent it. Stanford Medicine has enrolled nearly 1,000 long-COVID patients as well as people who’ve never had COVID, as controls. Researchers will monitor participants for four years while identifying differences between people who have long COVID and those who don’t and will monitor what happens to those who do. As part of that, they will examine participants’ blood and stool samples for molecular signatures, or biomarkers, that correlate with symptom severity. Once those are found, they’ll look for treatments that bring long-COVID biomarkers back to healthy baseline levels. “We have great tools in our toolbox for acute COVID,” said Linda Geng, M.D., PhD, a clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health. “We have no tools for long COVID.”
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