What is a “long hauler?” It is someone who still has not fully recovered from COVID-19 weeks or even months after the first sign of symptoms. We know that, while many people recover quickly from COVID-19, there are also those whose symptoms linger for a long time. In a recent research letter, 125 of 143 Italian adult patients still experienced COVID-19 symptoms 2 months after their first symptom emerged. The most common lingering symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, and chest pain. This study found that, of the patients who had recovered from COVID-19, 87% still felt at least 1 symptom, especially fatigue. Six months after infection, 44% of participants said their quality of life worsened from COVID-19 infection. Interestingly, many COVID-19 “long haulers” are health care workers who had a lot of exposure to the virus early in the pandemic, and there are more women than men with prolonged symptoms. Some researchers point to how the COVID-19 infection can trigger long-lasting changes in the immune system and certain organs, such as the lungs. It is important for doctors and patients alike to be aware of COVID’s long-term impacts on the body.
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