JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Months after the COVID-19 virus outbreak, many doctors are seeing effects still linger over some of its victims, which they are now calling, “Post-COVID Syndrome.”
Mayo Clinic Doctor Greg Vanichkachorn said COVID-19 patients usually recover within a few weeks, but doctors are finding in some cases, symptoms have not fully subsided to this day. These patients are known as “Long Haulers.”
“From the start, it became clear the road to recovery was not going to be straightforward for a lot of these patients,” Vanichkachorn said.
There’s a multitude of persisting symptoms of Post-Covid Syndrome, but common ones include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache and joint pain.
“Individuals who have a more serious acute infection tend to do worse and have more probability to be in the post-COVID scenario,” Vanichkachorn said.
That’s exactly the case for Tommy Shapard—who contracted the virus in March.
“I ended up in the hospital, ICU for 24 hours,” Shapard said.
Now, about seven months after contracting the virus, he’s still working through nagging symptoms.
“I have inflammation in my throat,” Shapard said. “I have difficulty swallowing sometimes, abnormalities when I cough or when I sneeze.”
For some people, Post-COVID Syndrome has been life-altering.
Eight months after contracting COVID-19, hair salon owner Lisa Lozano said she still can’t stand for more than 15 minutes.
“It hit my eyes too,” Lozano said. “I got diagnosed with glaucoma. So I don’t even know if I could see hair to cut hair.”
Vanichkachorn said it's important for patients to listen to their bodies. Get medical help if symptoms persist and don’t push through it.
“This is something that can get worse if patients tend to push themselves too hard to get better,” Vanichkachorn said.
Lozano knows this first hand.
“I work out for one minute and my heart rate goes up to 160 like I’m running a marathon,” Lozano said.
Vanichkachorn said it’s important to realize everyone reacts differently to the virus. He often sees patients fall into depression as those around them don’t believe they’re still sick.
“Even from family and friends, you know, ‘everyone has gotten back up on their feet except for you. What’s the problem and why can’t you just deal with this,’” Vanichkachorn mimicked.
Lozano says COVID-19 won’t win. Even if her recovery takes longer than most, she will get her life back.
“I’m a fighter and I’m going to keep fighting every single day,” Lozano said.