To the Editor:
With the holidays upon us, everyone is making decisions about what Covid-19 exposure risk they are willing to accept and whether to gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays. Everyone knows what the recommendations are re. mask wearing, social distancing and limiting the number who gather, especially indoors. However, there is one more factor everyone should consider – Long Haul Covid (also known as Long Covid).
Some of you may already be aware that there have been findings emerging over the past few months of long-term organ damage and post-Covid illness in many of those infected by Covid-19. Recent data estimate anywhere from 15% – 30% of those infected with Covid will not be fully recovered weeks or even months after the initial infection. But equally important, it is now apparent that ANYONE infected by Covid is at risk for post-Covid complications. It is not just those who are severely ill who are dealing with Long Covid months down the line. Surprisingly, many long haulers had asymptomatic or mild cases of Covid. Also surprisingly, many long haulers are young, athletic, active and healthy with no previous underlying medical issues.
Here is just a *partial* list of symptoms long haulers struggle with on a daily basis: shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, brain fog, severe fatigue, trouble concentrating, tremors, muscle aches, hair loss, rashes, tooth loss, vision loss, headaches, loss or change in taste and smell, phantom tastes and smells, post exertional malaise, myocarditis and cardiomyopathy, lung damage, blood clots, hearing loss, racing pulse, fertility issues, insomnia, memory issues, GI complaints, muscle spasms, tinnitus, and dizziness among many others. For some long haulers, their symptoms improve over time – for others, their symptoms worsen. For many, new symptoms continue to appear months after their bodies cleared the virus.
Why am I sharing this? Because there is a misconception that young, fit, healthy people tend not to get sick and, when they do, it’s no big deal. While this may be the case for the majority, a not insignificant percentage will not be so lucky and have to deal with long-term and possibly lifelong organ damage. Only time will tell. Surviving Covid is not the same thing as recovering from Covid. At least, not for all.
This will be a holiday season like no other. The decision about how and whether to gather is a personal one. Hopefully, it will also now be a better informed one.
Long Hauler since March 2020
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