What is (LHS) Long Hauler Syndrome?

It is becoming more common for people who have suffered from Covid 19 and recovered fully to experience prolonged symptoms long after coming out of it. Surprisingly, this not only happens to patients with harsher symptoms, but it appears as though those who experienced mild Covid 19 symptoms also suffer a similar fate. While it is well known that people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are worst hit by Covid 19, it is still not clear if the same conditions apply afterward. Experts are discovering that most of their patients continue to experience coronavirus symptoms long after healing. This can last for weeks and sometimes even months. What’s more, when tested, the affected individuals turn out negative, making it even more perplexing.

What is Long Haulers Syndrome

Different Responses to Covid 19 After Treatment

Studies show that there are two categories of people who have suffered from Covid 19 and recover. The first case involves individuals who recover quickly, like those with a mild reaction and may take up to two weeks to clear. This accounts for 80% of the cases. Then there is the second case in the first category of people who have a more severe response to the virus and take three to six weeks to recover from the symptoms.

However, there is the second category of patients, which is more worrying as the trend grows. This involves patients who continue to exhibit the Covid 19 symptoms long after they have cleared and continue to test negative. A study suggested that about 10 percent of people who have suffered from Covid 19 tend to experience these prolonged symptoms that can go up to three months without clearing. Even more frustrating for the patients and experts is that there seems to be no exact reason for this behavior. This group of people is referred to as long haulers and comprises those who experienced both mild and severe Covid 19 symptoms.

Who is Affected?

As already mentioned, long haulers exhibit the Covid 19 symptoms long after they have recovered and test negative. It can happen to anyone, both young and old, those with chronic conditions and those without, as well as those who were hospitalized and those who weren’t. Doctors working on these cases are having difficulty managing these patients because each patient manifests differently, meaning that they have unique needs that must be attended to separately. It takes a team of specialists working together to provide the support these patients need conveniently.

Currently, there is not enough data to determine the age group of most affected people and falls under the long-term group. However, it seems as though several young, healthy individuals fall under this group. Therefore, hospitals need to continue analyzing available data to make meaningful conclusions on this issue.

Relationship between Long Haulers and Chronic Conditions

While it is early to tell the relation between long haulers and chronic conditions, experience shows that most people are also in the risk category. However, while the high-risk group is a lot among long-haulers, it is not conclusive to say that this is the case since a rising number of previously healthy individuals also seem to present with similar symptoms.

Typical Symptoms Exhibited by Long Haulers

The common symptoms long haulers seem to exhibit include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughing
  • Tiredness

However, fatigue seems to be the most common symptom among long haulers despite the many other symptoms. Most of the patients in this category seem to suffer from chronic fatigue and can hardly push themselves or perform simple daily chores without feeling too exhausted. This can be very frustrating since simple tasks become a significant issue. Besides that, most long haulers feel as though they are not as sharp as they used to be—many reports having brain fog, while others experience many difficulties concentrating.

Typical Symptoms Exhibited by Long Haulers

Worrying about Whether these Symptoms are Contagious

Well, unlike the Covid 19 itself, it is less likely that long haulers will be contagious. Usually, once one is actively tested and found to have Covid 19, they tend to be highly infectious within the first week they begin to recover. However, there seem to be fewer fevers in this group, meaning the infection is not likely active and cannot be infectious. Generally, long haulers are defined as people who exhibit the Covid 19 symptoms 28 days after being diagnosed and even commenced treatment. These individuals can test positive, but in most cases, many are negative for the virus despite the lingering symptoms.

Why do the Symptoms Linger?

Experts believe that Covid 19 prompts an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body, which triggers a chain of events that exhibits different symptoms and effects. However, there is not enough evidence to explain why this may lead to prolonged symptoms in some people and not in others. With time and more investigation, experts may determine whether Covid 19 has an impact on the major organs in the body and if that is the reason for the prolonged symptoms.

For now, it is best to contact your doctor if you believe that you had the Covid 19 or tested positive for it but are still experiencing the symptoms 28 days later, even after treatment.

Currently, health service providers encourage long haulers to undergo specific tests to chart a way forward as far as treatment is concerned. These tests include behavioral, pulmonary, respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological health tests. Generally, though, patients are advised to stay hydrated by talking a lot of fluids, resting and sleeping adequately, eating healthy diets, and managing stress levels.

Final Thoughts

A lot of research is still ongoing as far as post Covid 19 effects are concerned. Therefore, a lot of expert monitoring is needed before any conclusions are made on the subject of long hauler and other related cases. For now, patients are advised to keep in touch with their physicians, monitor their symptoms, and avoid depression and anxiety, which seem to be significant symptoms.

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October 21, 2020
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