CORONAVIRUS

New Study Shows COVID ‘Long Haulers’ Dealing With Symptoms Months After Diagnosis

Dec 29, 2020, 9:06 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2021, 10:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ are finding validation in a new study of long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

The research, conducted through online surveys, studied symptoms in nearly 4,000 patients in 56 countries.

Researchers found more than 200 prevalent symptoms among participants across 10 of the body’s organ systems.

Utah’s Jess Monsen didn’t participate in the study but is hopeful the findings will help doctors and others take her symptoms more seriously.

“I still have family members who don’t validate it and it’s a big struggle,” she said. “It hurts.”

Monsen had positive experiences with practitioners at Utah’s VA hospital, but many other long haulers KSL has talked to have described doctors diagnosing their symptoms as anxiety or brushing them off as not serious.

“I’ve seen a lot of other people struggling and crying because they have so many practitioners and providers not believing them,” Monsen said.

This new study tracked participants’ symptoms over seven months. After six months, participants most frequently experienced fatigue (77.7%), post-exertional malaise (72.2%) and cognitive dysfunction (55.4%).

Other common symptoms included brain fog and memory impairment, headaches, changes to emotion and mood, elevated body temperature, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and diarrhea.

“Overall, these findings suggest that the morbidity of COVID-19 illness has been greatly underappreciated. Patients experience multisystem symptoms for over seven months, resulting in significant impact to patients’ lives and livelihoods,” researchers said.

Monsen has suffered from post-COVID symptoms since July. Some days are better than others.

“It’s like a switch,” she said. “I’ll have a really good day and then the next day it will be like a switch and I can’t do anything.”

The study found that nearly half (45.2%) of participants were unable to return to full-time work due to lingering symptoms. 22.3% were unable to work at all.

Monsen has a job that offers flexible hours and breaks when needed. She’s thankful she has been able to return to work and provide for her family but she knows she can no longer be as independent as she used to be.

She wishes others would see her situation and consider it when making daily decisions.

“When they talk about loss of independence with having to wear a mask, I’m like, ‘You have no idea the loss of independence that some of us have experienced with these long-term debilitating symptoms from COVID,’” Monsen said.

A long hauler support group for Utahns was created in June 2020. Since then it has grown to over 1,300 members.

If you are suffering from long-term symptoms from COVID-19 you can find the Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers Facebook page here.

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New Study Shows COVID ‘Long Haulers’ Dealing With Symptoms Months After Diagnosis