NEW YORK - One year into the pandemic comes a small but significant distinction in post-viral care, the difference between long-COVID or "long-haulers" and those with long-term side effects from the virus.
The two groups sound identical, but as Dr.David Petrino, Dir. Of Rehabilitation Innovation for Mount Sinai Health system explains, "One group is having persistent symptoms and when we test them there is a really clear and identifiable cause of symptoms. On the other hand, the other group is having persistent symptoms, but when we test them, there is not a distinct reason."
According to the CDC, long-haul symptoms typically include chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, lingering headaches, loss of taste and smell, persistent rashes, joint pain, and brain fog.
However, the scans and tests, don't necessarily show sustained damage. Those with long-term effects have clear lung, heart or organ damage.
"We can see it in people with any kind of COVID-19 infection, those with a mild infection who are sick and feverish for a few days to people who have been in the ICU. The long-term health effects may be more serious," says Dr. Ian Newmark, Chief of Pulmonology at Syosset Hospital.
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Mount Sinai estimates they've received 1500 post-acute COVID care patients, of which 900 would classify as long haulers. The others are usually rehabbed using known therapies. At this point, because COVID has only been around for a little more than a year, there is still a struggle in determining how best to treat long haulers and alleviate their symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control is investigating both sub-groups.
Both doctors suggest seeking medical care if you have lingering symptoms. They believe, not only could you rehab a medical issue, but you will also help doctors and researchers better understand this post-viral syndrome.