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By: Jonah Charlton
While the majority of those who test positive for COVID-19 only have symptoms for a few weeks, others are still experiencing symptoms months after being diagnosed.
Kate Maxouris, M.D., NorthShore Family Medicine Physician, has been involved in treating COVID-19 patients since the outset of the pandemic and has seen many instances of prolonged symptoms.
Here, Dr. Maxouris answers a few top-of-mind questions about those with long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19.
What are some of the most common prolonged symptoms?“The main symptoms that have disabled people are prolonged shortness of breath, intolerance to exertion, depression and anxiety. We also have people with ongoing body aches and pains, and people who have consistent headaches months after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The last big symptom we see is what is referred to as ‘brain fogginess’ and just an overall lack of ability to concentrate.”
In your experience, have any patients experienced permanent lung damage?“No, all the patients we have seen have recovered fully after six months at the maximum. Now, we know that permanent lung damage as a result of COVID-19 does happen, but it is incredibly rare. For many people with these long-term symptoms, there is fear that it will be permanent, but in most cases, things resolve in a matter of months.”
What should you do if you feel symptoms many weeks after contracting COVID-19?“When you go into your doctor for support, be sure to explain the entire picture so that your doctor can provide you with wraparound support with both physical and behavioral support. When I talk to a patient with long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms, sometimes the conditions they describe do not appear on medical tests.”
“This is why it is so incredibly important that patients explain everything that is going on – even if they think it might not matter – so that we can help you every way we can.”