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Ask the experts: Long-haul COVID

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Long COVID patient Gary Miller, left, receives treatment from physiotherapist Joan Del Arco at the Long COVID Clinic at King George Hospital in Ilford, London, in May.
Long COVID patient Gary Miller, left, receives treatment from physiotherapist Joan Del Arco at the Long COVID Clinic at King George Hospital in Ilford, London, in May.

In this episode, Bonnie Petrie guest hosts The Source on Texas Public Radio to put listener questions about long-haul COVID to two leading experts: Dr. Barbara Taylor, MD, MS, associate professor of infectious diseases and assistant dean for the M.D./MPH program at UT Health San Antonio and Dr. Sudha Seshadri, MD, professor of neurology and founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio.

While many people who contract COVID-19 recover within weeks, others experience persistent symptoms that can cause a range of adverse physical and psychological health effects for six months or more after initial recovery.

A November study estimated that at least 50% of survivors will become “long haulers” with residual health issues associated with COVID-19.

Common symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, chest tightness or pain, memory or concentration problems, trouble with sleep, joint or muscle pain, headache, heart palpitations, loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety, fever, dizziness, and worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities.

Severe illness is not a prerequisite for long COVID —it also affects individuals who had mild cases — but research shows that individuals who did have more severe COVID cases and required hospitalization were more likely to experience longer-lasting cognitive dysfunction.

Children who are asymptomatic or have mild cases of the virus can also develop long COVID.

What short- and long-term health effects are associated with COVID-19, and how often do they occur? Are certain people more at risk?

Does being fully vaccinated offer more protection? What do we know so far about omicron – the most transmissible variant yet – and long COVID?

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Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie