ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – As the government prepares to declare the end of the public health emergency on May 11th, concerns are growing about people who got COVID-19 but never got rid of the symptoms – it’s called long-COVID, which means symptoms last for more than a month. But for some people, their health has been impacted for years now. Washington University in St. Louis has the very latest details on what could be a lifetime of COVID-caused health problems
“That night, my oxygen level dropped really low. I didn’t think I was gonna make it,” Julie painfully remembers.
That was the beginning, but Julie’s COVID-19 symptoms lasted long after she tested negative, and a year and a half later, her life is still not back to normal.
“It feels like someone is taking and they’re just squeezing my heart,” she expresses.
Epidemiologists are finding long-COVID is more than just a respiratory disease.
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine clinical epidemiologist, Ziyad Al-Aly, MD explains, “In some patients, it can manifest as heart attacks or heart failure.”
It also impacts a patient’s brain.
“A lot of patients are actually having strokes and we found that people are having brain inflammation. People are having symptoms that are almost reminiscent of Parkinson’s disease or early Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Al-Aly adds.
In fact, people who suffer long-COVID are at an increased risk for 44 conditions of the brain. Analyzing 150,000 COVID patients, doctors also found long-COVID can cause a spike in cholesterol and gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, Gerd, and it can impact liver function.
“It’s, really, a lot of different things that can manifest differently in different patients,” Dr. Al-Aly says.
And some people may feel the effects for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Al-Aly emphasizes, “Long after this pandemic recedes from public view, we’re gonna be left with the legacy, or the aftermath of this pandemic.”
With the government ending the public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11th, it means that responsibility for payment for COVID vaccines, testing, and treatment will switch to insurers. Depending on your insurer, you may have to pay a co-pay for the vaccine, testing and treatments related to COVID-19. Over-the-counter tests will no longer be covered.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.
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TOPIC: A LIFETIME OF LONG-COVID
REPORT: MB #5217
BACKGROUND: Post-COVID conditions, or long-COVID, are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 get better within a few days to a few weeks after infection, so at least four weeks after the initial COVID infection is the start of when long-COVID could first be identified. Overall, one in 13 adults in the U.S. have long-COVID symptoms, defined as symptoms lasting three or more months after first contracting the COVID-19 virus, and that they didn’t have prior to their infection. Studies show that women tend to get long-COVID more often than men.
DIAGNOSING: The symptoms of long-COVID can vary, depending on the person. Common symptoms can include fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, fast-beating heart, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, dizziness, depression/anxiety, stomach pain, rash, and/or changes in menstrual cycles. Long-COVID patients may develop or continue to have symptoms that are hard to explain and manage and these unexplained symptoms may be misunderstood by their healthcare providers, which can result in a long time for them to get a diagnosis and receive appropriate care or treatment.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: The risk of long-term health problems, hospitalization and death after a COVID-19 infection lessens among those who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid within five days after testing positive, according to an analysis of federal health data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system. Paxlovid works by stopping the virus that causes COVID-19 from multiplying and reduces the amount of virus in the body. The study showed, the medication’s benefits last up to six months after infection.
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