Long COVID is Real 

The pandemic may be over but endemic COVID-19 is with us indefinitely. Today, most cases are reasonably mild, particularly when sufferers have been vaccinated. Sadly, however, not everyone shakes off COVID (aka SARS-CoV-2) after a week or two, and “long haul” cases have been a concern for years now. Today, we call it Long COVID and, if you are dealing with symptoms that have not gone away, you’re not alone. 

Understanding Long COVID

When symptoms persist for more than four weeks, doctors can make a diagnosis of Long COVID. But how long does it usually last after that? It’s hard to say. In some cases, people get over their case a week or two late, in too many other cases, many people who contracted COVID during the pandemic are still waiting for their symptoms to go away or dissipate.

If you’re looking for definitive signs of Long COVID, good luck. As with COVID itself, symptoms are all over the map and there is no test for it. Issues can range from mild to major fatigue, and brain fog, as well as the respiratory symptoms and the loss of taste and smell frequently associated with the coronavirus. 

Those problems, however, are relatively minor compared to cardiovascular and neurological symptoms. Patients with Long COVID should be especially alert to symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations. Even people with mild, short-term coronavirus cases have an increased risk of heart attacks during their illness.

The severity of Long COVID is as variable as shorter-term COVID. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine notes that a tingling sensation he experienced when he first contracted coronavirus in 2021 remains with him years later, but he has otherwise been able to maintain an active political career. Persistent ringing in the ear (tinnitus) is another chronic symptom that can hamper a person’s quality of life. Unfortunately, that’s far from the worst of it. Some patients still feel ill months or years after contracting coronavirus. Particularly unfortunate individuals have developed symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Symptom, a still mysterious but very real ailment that can be debilitating. In the very worst cases, people are left essentially bedridden.

Investigations into the cause of Long COVID may hint at something that might have to do with immune responses gone awry or particles of the virus that continually disappear and reappear like Whac-a-Mole. Again, we have more questions than answers. Moreover, studies indicate that people who are unvaccinated or who have weakened immune systems due to aging or illness are more vulnerable. Nevertheless, there are a very small number of notable cases of healthy, fully boosted individuals with mild initial cases who later came down with debilitating Long COVID symptoms. Most frustrating of all, young and older people who have no known prior case of COVID-19 have been diagnosed with Long COVID. 

Unfortunately, a few overzealous skeptics have assumed that the chronic and hard-to-pin-down nature of Long COVID means that it doesn’t really exist. Nothing could be more wrong. Studies are beginning to learn more about the nature of the illness and it’s very widespread. A 2022 CDC estimate said that 18.8 million Americans have had Long COVID at some point, while over 8 million currently had it at the time of the survey. It is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, though obtaining aid remains a challenge, and proposed bipartisan legislation to deal with the issue is only beginning. 

Living with Long COVID

The CDC has compiled a list of recommendations* you can find on their website, but these suggestions have more to do with dealing with your healthcare providers than specific treatments to inquire about. Even so, it is essential to give your doctor and medical teams all the information they need to help investigate the nature of your illness.

House may be an entirely fictional TV show, but there is an element of detective work in medicine, and the more information about you, your medications, habits, as well as your personal and family health history, your care providers have, the better. To that end, the CDC also suggests keeping a journal of your symptoms so you can give your doctor a more accurate view of exactly what you’re experiencing

It’s also important that you and/or a loved one act as your advocate. You might know little about medicine, and your doctor should be a healthcare expert — but you are the #1 authority on you. Not all doctors are the same; too many may feel the need to pigeonhole patients and, in some cases, ignore information that doesn’t fit easily into an illness they know how to treat. Medical professionals who are pressured to stringently limit the amount of time they may stay with patients by their medical groups can be especially problematic. 

If you are dealing with a debilitating case of Long COVID, this kind of homework may seem nearly impossible. In these cases, don’t be afraid to ask for help from loved ones or others who may be able to help – and try to find the most caring, knowledgeable, and compassionate doctor you can. It’s also important to get in touch with recognized support groups and organizations online that can greatly ease your burden, especially if you are alone. Having a serious problem means it’s more important than ever that you are listened to and treated as an individual. 

Finding the Right Doctor for Long COVID

As we mentioned above, too many doctors work for HMOs which may pressure them to fit all their patient visits into specific time limits that don’t allow for the kind of exploration that might be needed to deal with a difficult illness like Long COVID. While we all have our particular situations, finding a house call doctor who offers medical concierge services with extra support can be an outstanding way to deal with a difficult ongoing illness like Long COVID. 

For those who live in the Los Angeles area, Dr. Michael Farzam and House Call Doctor Los Angeles may be your best option if you are dealing with chronic problems that might not neatly fit into categories that are easy for medical professionals to deal with. Patients praise his compassionate nature and his diligence in terms of spending the amount of time required to deal with a patient’s health situation. 

Offering everything from vaccines and immunizations to Paxlovid for new cases of COVID that may shorten the initial illness and possibly help reduce the chances of suffering Long COVID, Dr. Farzam is a leading board-certified internist who has helped countless patients deal with a variety of issues. If you would like to learn more about a single visit or a concierge plan, call us today or visit our contact page

*Tips for Long COVID treatment from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

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