Fatigue and Impaired Cognition are Common Among Long-COVID Sufferers

It’s been more than two-and-a-half years since almost the entire world came to a standstill. The rapid spread of a deadly virus (SARS-COV-2) morphed into the COVID-19 pandemic. Research efforts and resources quickly led to efficient diagnostic tests, preventive vaccines, and treatment options. We are not yet seeing an end to the pandemic, and a section of the population is enduring the health impacts of a new condition- long COVID. 

Fatigue and Brain Fog

Most who experience a mild or moderate form of COVID-19 may see their symptoms last for up to two weeks. However, a fraction of these individuals may have lingering health problems even after their fever and cough subside. 

German researchers surveyed 969 individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 between November 15, 2020, and September 29, 2021. At about nine months after testing positive,

  • 19% of respondents reported having fatigue 
    • Risk factors included being female; younger age; history of depression; and altered consciousness, dizziness, and muscle pain during infection
  • 26% had mild cognitive dysfunction
    • Risk factors included older age, being male, and history of neuropsychiatric disease 

The authors noted that exhaustion improved over time but would need rehabilitation programs. Cognitive impairment, on the other hand, had a delayed onset of several months. These intellectual deficiencies post infection may be apparent in the way a person thinks, speaks, remembers things, and is able to focus on tasks at hand. Experts believe that the symptoms could evolve into depression, anxiety, or other mental-health issues.   

Other Long-Term Issues 

COVID long haulers may face a variety of other symptoms depending on the organs that are affected. It might take time for their lungs to recover post infection, especially if there’s been scarring; the recovery process may require breathing exercises and respiratory therapy. Inflammation of the heart muscle is another severe symptom that can cause palpitation, shortness of breath, and a racing of the heart. More than half of those in recovery—even if it was a mild infection—face this long-term issue. 

The virus also muddles with our body’s sensory system, causing a loss of smell and taste. This could morph into the usual things smelling or tasting bad or different. While this effect may wear off among some individuals, in others it may linger for weeks.

How Do You Escape Long COVID? 

By getting vaccinated or boosted. Between 10-50% of unvaccinated individuals are likely to suffer from the long-term effects of COVID-19—vaccination reduces that risk by up to 50%.

Several hospitals across the U.S. offer care and recovery services for long-term COVID-19 patients. Make sure to check with a hospital or clinic near you if they offer similar services.

Additionally, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information and resources.

the patient perspective (op-ed)

By Jim Sliney Jr

At Patients Rising we stay in close contact with our audience. In conversations and on social media it is clear that our largely immunocompromised population is concerned. It may be that people-in-general are less likely to contract Covid-19 and might have less severity when they do, but that’s not referring to our people. Seeing unmasking and a return to crowded conditions, is, for us, a return to those pre-pandemic days when sick people were ‘their own problem’ or somehow ‘less than’.

What’s more, relaxing of universal precautions ignores the risks of long-Covid. I am a caregiver to a severely immunocompromised family member, so the pandemic isn’t over in my world. Our chronically ill and disabled spoonies know better than to brush off what, for them, could significantly harm them long term. For those more likely to contract Covid and therefore contract long-Covid, continue to practice sound respiratory infection resistance principles.

“…the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members” – Pearl Buck

– Jim Sliney Jr, editor, director of patient outreach

Surabhi Dangi Garamella

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, Ph.D. is a biologist and research scientist who brings her skills and knowledge to the health care communications world. She provides writing and strategic support to non-profit groups via her consultancy, SDG AdvoHealth, LLC

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