COVID-19 “long haulers”: Explained

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Despite testing negative after a COVID-19 illness, some patients still experience the lingering, debilitating symptoms of post-COVID syndrome

The perception that a “recovered” COVID-19 patient’s health returns to how it was before their diagnosis is not the case for many.

A recent study conducted in England (with similar findings resulting from a study at an American university) determined that approximately 10 percent of COVID-19 become “long haulers.”

COVID-19 long haulers are those who tested positive for the coronavirus but continue to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 even after they’ve tested negative. It’s an ailment being referred to as post-COVID syndrome.

Those with post-COVID syndrome continue to be treated by their physicians in their “recovery.”

The research continued, finding that anyone can become a long hauler – it doesn’t impact a specific demographic more than another. Race, gender, age or health status before a diagnosis play no factor into determining who becomes a long hauler.

There is much more still to be learned about long haulers, but patients can experience symptoms for several weeks or even months after testing negative. A physician at the Mayo Clinic has said that it may take a year or more for long haulers to fully recover.

Post-COVID syndrome symptoms

Symptoms associated with a COVID-19 long hauler are:
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Body aches and joint pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Headaches and “brain fogginess” (confusion and forgetfulness)
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Trouble sleeping

What you can do now

Following the guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will also slow the occurrence of post-COVID syndrome.
  • Wear a mask
  • Socially distance
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Encourage those around you to do the same