COVID-19 is one of the most mysterious and widespread illnesses in the history of medicine. Over the last year, the virus has been extensively studied around the globe, with health experts realizing early on that surviving the initial infection can be just the beginning of a health crisis for many people. Dubbed "Long Haulers," these poor souls—whose initial infections were oftentimes mild to moderate—suffer from a condition dubbed "Long COVID" defined by a group of symptoms that can last for months on end. Here are the 5 long-lasting symptoms that are experienced by the most people, according to a new survey led by Natalie Lambert, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine in the Medical School at Indiana University. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss the full list of Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You Might Suffer Nerve Sensations
Nearly four months after their initial infection, many long haulers are still experiencing nerve sensations, per Dr. Lambert. An earlier report from the Atlantic explained that as tingling or vibrating sensations when touching surfaces, likely due to the disease's effect on the brain and nervous system. Per the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Neuralgia is a sharp, shocking pain that follows the path of a nerve and is due to irritation or damage to the nerve."
You Might Have GERD with Excessive Salivation
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is more commonly referred to as acid reflux or heartburn. It can cause excessive salivation or drooling. How is it related to COVID? The University of Florida Health explains that trauma or infections in the throat— including sinus infections—can be the culprit.
You Might Experience Changing Symptoms
One of the most common and lingering symptoms of long term COVID is actually the changing of symptoms. For example, one patient suffered costochondritis—a swelling of the tissues in the ribs—for months, along with shortness of breath, fatigue and migraines. Then the swelling went away, only to be replaced by back pain and gastrointestinal bloating. Now, head-splitting migraines are his primary symptom. The only constant over his last 10 months has been that most common of Long Hauler symptoms: fatigue.
You Might Suffer Tinnitus
Another long-lingering symptom is tinnitus, according to Dr. Lambert's survey. It is defined as"ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears that may be constant or come and go, often associated with hearing loss" by the Mayo Clinic. One study found that 40% of those who had COVID-19 symptoms experienced a worsening of their existing tinnitus, linking it to long COVID. "The findings of this study highlight the complexities associated with experiencing tinnitus and how both internal factors, such as increased anxiety and feelings of loneliness, and external factors, such as changes to daily routines, can have a significant effect on the condition," explained study author Eldre Beukes. "Poor treatment of tinnitus in the early stages often leads to much worse cases, and severe tinnitus can have a huge impact on mental health," added study co-author David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association.
You Might Have Spikes in Blood Pressure
It has been established that COVID-19 wreaks damage on many organs, including the heart. So, it isn't surprising that long haulers are experiencing spikes in their blood pressure for months on end. "Very early into the pandemic, it was clear that many patients who were hospitalized were showing evidence of cardiac injury," Dr. Gregg Fonarow, chief of the division of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently told the American Heart Association. "More recently, there is recognition that even some of those COVID-19 patients not hospitalized are experiencing cardiac injury. This raises concerns that there may be individuals who get through the initial infection, but are left with cardiovascular damage and complications."
What to Do If You've Experienced These Symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms, call a medical professional immediately. And follow Dr. Anthony Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.