The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of coronavirus symptoms has remained unchanged for many months—until now. "CDC is actively working to learn more about the whole range of short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19. As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone's health," the agency reported mid-month when listing the Long-Term Effects of COVID. The most commonly reported "long-hauler" symptoms include the following ones—read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"One of the most insidious long-term effects of COVID-19 is its least understood: severe fatigue. Over the past nine months, an increasing number of people have reported crippling exhaustion and malaise after having the virus," reports Nature. "They struggle to get out of bed, or to work for more than a few minutes or hours at a time."
Shortness of Breath
"One study of 143 people with COVID-19 discharged from a hospital in Rome found that 53% had reported fatigue and 43% had shortness of breath an average of 2 months after their symptoms started," continues Nature. "A study of patients in China showed that 25% had abnormal lung function after 3 months, and that 16% were still fatigued."
"Cough is the most common persistent symptom seen at the new COVID-19 Recovery Clinic (CORE) at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, co-director Aluko Hope, MD, MSCE, said in an interview," reports JAMA. "What the CORE patients have in common is that they haven't yet returned to their pre–COVID-19 health. At least a few of them have been sick for 4 or 5 months, Hope said. Besides the persistent cough, which can also occur with other viruses, loss of taste and smell lingers for many long haulers."
"The list of long hauler symptoms is long, wide and inconsistent. For some people, the lasting coronavirus symptoms are nothing like the original symptoms when they were first infected with COVID-19," reports UC Davis Health. "The most common long hauler symptoms include:
Ongoing, sometimes debilitating, fatigue
"Symptoms for long-haulers are not uniform. Some report severe chest pain along with more general body aches. Others have chills and sweats or gastrointestinal issues. Some people have reported feeling better for days or even weeks then relapsing. For others, it's a case of just not feeling like themselves," reports UC Davis Health. "There are patients who can go for a run and test completely normal," said Nicholas Kenyon, a UC Davis Health professor and leading pulmonary and critical care expert. "But they still don't feel right. They aren't back to their old selves, but we can't fully define what's wrong. Telling a patient who feels bad that they are fine and there is nothing we can identify is not a decent answer for them, or for us."
Difficulty With Thinking and Concentration (Sometimes Referred to as "Brain Fog")
"The term 'brain fog' is ill-defined, but it's one that more and more experts are using to describe a cluster of neurological symptoms that a lot of people who have had Covid-19 go on to experience for months following their initial infection," reports Elemental. "These symptoms include memory and concentration problems, as well as a general lack of sharpness. They also include headaches, poor sleep, anxiety, and other lingering symptoms that seem rooted in the brain."
The New York Times tells of an online support group, founded by the wellness organization Body Politic. "Along with sharing their physical symptoms, many in the support group have opened up about how their mental health has suffered because of the disease. Dozens wrote that their months of illness have contributed to anxiety and depression, exacerbated by the difficulties of accessing medical services and disruptions to their work, social and exercise routines," says the paper. "It makes you depressed, anxious that it's never going to go away," said one sufferer.
"A recent survey by the grassroots group COVID-19 'Survivor Corps' found that fatigue was the most common of the top 50 symptoms experienced by the more than 1500 long haulers who responded, followed by muscle or body aches, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and difficulty concentrating," reports JAMA Network.
According to Harvard Health: "The most common symptoms are fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and difficulty sleeping. Since COVID-19 is a new disease that began with an outbreak in China in December 2019, we have no information on long-term recovery rates."
"The 'long-haulers,' a name coined for long-term COVID-19 patients, experience ongoing fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, muscle pain, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairments, intermittent fevers, and more," reports MeAction. "Many long-haulers reveal that these and other symptoms often worsen after attempting simple daily activities and mild exercise, placing some in a never-ending loop of illness and disability."
Fast-Beating or Pounding Heart (Also Known as Heart Palpitations)
These 'long haulers' may continue to feel fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and respiratory issues well after they should have gotten past their illness," says People. "And a new preprint study, from researchers at King's College London, found that women, the elderly and people who had a wide range of symptoms at the start of their illness are the most likely people to become 'long haulers.'"
More Serious Long-Term Complications
"More serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported," says the CDC. "These have been noted to affect different organ systems in the body. These include:
Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
Renal: acute kidney injury
Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood."
Final Word from the CDC
"While most persons with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from acute illness. Even people who are not hospitalized and who have mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate. CDC continues to work to identify how common these symptoms are, who is most likely to get them, and whether these symptoms eventually resolve," says the agency. "The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known. CDC will continue active investigation and provide updates as new data emerge, which can inform COVID-19 clinical care as well as the public health response to COVID-19." If you feel any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.