Long COVID is a medical term for the symptoms that persist after a person has contracted COVID-19. Unfortunately, about one in four patients continue to experience persistent symptoms even after the virus has left the body. Similar to a COVID-19 infection, Long COVID can be mild or severe depending on the person, but can last for weeks or months.
dr Jay Petruska of CaroMont Family Medicine in Cramerton has been helping COVID-19 patients feel well again. As medical professionals and scientists continue to learn more about the virus, there are several facts about Long COVID that Dr. Petruska considers important. Read his answers to frequently asked questions below:
Who is at risk for Long COVID?
If a person has or has had COVID-19, they are at risk of developing long-term complications from the virus. Those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, lung disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure are more likely to develop long-term complications from COVID-19 infection. Additionally, people over 50 are at an increased risk of developing Long COVID, and women are more likely to show signs of Long COVID than men.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to protect yourself from COVID-19. Because effective vaccines and booster vaccines are widely available, tools are available to individuals to prevent or mitigate the effects of COVID-19 infection, even when community spread is low. I recommend immunizations and booster shots, per Centers for Disease Control guidelines, as the best way to protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of Long COVID?
I have seen symptoms in my patients lasting weeks or months after an initial COVID-19 infection. The most common are fatigue, headache, persistent cough, dizziness, shortness of breath, and brain fog. Some experience increased anxiety or depression. Similar to COVID-19, you may experience all or just some of them. It really depends on the person.
How can I help prevent Long COVID?
The best way to prevent Long COVID is not to get COVID-19 in the first place. We find that individuals who have had few or no symptoms are still struggling with the long-term effects of this virus. This is why vaccinations and booster shots are so important: they are your best protection against COVID-19 and have been shown to offer protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.
We’ve learned so much over the past two years of this pandemic, but one of my top tips for any patient is to work on their overall health. Focus on these key areas:
- Exercise 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day. This amount of time can drastically improve your health and keep your lungs and heart strong.
- Don’t start smoking or quit if you smoke. Not only can smoking cause lung disease and cancer, but it also increases the likelihood of serious complications from COVID-19 infection. It can also cause heart disease and significantly lower your immune response.
- Find a family doctor you trust and make regular appointments with him. This relationship ensures that you are regularly checking on your health and that anything out of the ordinary can be identified and treated as quickly as possible.
dr Petruska treats patients at CaroMont Family Medicine in Cramerton, North Carolina. Visit our website to learn more about CaroMont Health’s experienced doctors and providers: https://www.caromonthealth.org/Find-a-Doctor.aspx