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COVID-19 Long Hauler – Complications

Serena Satcher, MD Serena Satcher, MD February 18, 2021


"So one in five COVID-19 long haulers get a mental health diagnosis within 90 days of infection. Many experience anxiety, depression, mild cognitive impairment, and other mental health conditions. The nervous system is directly affected by the virus. And I have witnessed psychosis in addition to other mental health conditions that were mentioned. Many studies are showing that intensive care patients experience post-traumatic stress syndrome, like a PTS type of condition. Most post COVID-19 syndrome patients experience PTSD as a result of the isolation, the uncertainty of being hospitalized without visitors, and with rarely seeing clinicians who are in short supply and in demand in the inpatient settings in some locations. A number of people develop psychosis, and it's not known where they're permanent or short-term for this particular diagnosis. Anosmia, which means that you can't smell, can persist in the long haulers, and some experience sleep issues and insomnia. Many in the US population without COVID have sleep issues pre COVID, due to the American diet.

And this has been recently documented in studies. So of course, COVID-19 with the chronic inflammation going on, are probably going to have more insomnia in the long hauler. Fatigue is a common symptom in long haulers. It seems to persist and baffle doctors and researchers. However, in functional medicine, we believe that it's related to the autonomic nervous system and also related to the chronic inflammation. Joint pain, muscle pain, are symptoms that may persist in long haulers and have the appearance of fibromyalgia clinically. And pain and fatigue may relate to the effects on the cellular mitochondrial function, that can affect cells' ability to make energy and to properly metabolize after exercise. Many studies need to be done to confirm the mechanisms like looking at the neurotransmitters and the hormones."

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