Dealing with “long haul” COVID-19

Tongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant life change and loss for a majority of the world’s population, many if not all experience emotional separations, social anxiety and a lack of global security.

Then there are the “long haul”, those who are actually infected with COVID-19 who have experienced a range of severe symptoms for at least a month up to, at this point, over a year.

Post-COVID-19 syndrome – or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), as recently labeled by the National Institutes of Health – exacerbates everything.

“PASC should be one of the motivators for people to get vaccinated,” says Dr Vanessa Trespalacios, medical director of the Post-COVID CARE (Comprehensive Assessment Recovery and Evaluation) program at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston.

“I hear so often, ‘I’m young, healthy and more concerned about the side effects of the vaccine than getting COVID-19’, but they really should be worried.” Trespalacios said. “Even if they survive COVID-19, betweenn 10 to 30% of infected patients will end up with PASC.

For employers wishing to move forward, this syndrome must therefore be properly validated and accommodated to once again promote a healthy workforce.

“COVID-19[FEMININE[and PASC] the symptoms are real, they must be recognized, and medical intervention for employees is the best way forward, ”says Dr Waqas Rahman, physician at the COVID-19 recovery center at Hackensack Meridian Health, who coordinates care with the medical practices of Hackensack Meridian Health across New Jersey and offers a specialized COVID rehabilitation program at the Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison.

“Employees will have to gradually return to work,” says Dr Fred Cerrone, a doctor with pulmonary and Allergy Associates, whose offices serve as triage locations for Atlantic COVID Recovery Center, the multidisciplinary Atlantic Health System program based at Cedar Knolls and Summit. “Patients who tried to do too much at once – it just didn’t workk. “

Indeed, with over 200 symptoms and varying durations of illness reported by patients with this syndrome, individualized and comprehensive care – often requiring time, testing and rest – is the only option currently available.

” A lot of patienceAnyone we meet feels like no one really understands what they are going through because it is very difficult for them to explain their symptoms, ”says Rahman. “It is important to reassure them that they are not the only ones and that we are here to try to help them develop a treatment plan using a team approach.

According to the Mayo Clinic, imaging tests done months after recovery from even mild COVID-19 infections have shown lasting damage and inflammation to the heart, lungs and blood vessels, which could also contribute to long term liver and kidney damage.

Most commonly, PASC results in chronic physical symptoms of shortness of breath, persistent cough, elevated heart rate, painful headache and body aches, loss and / or distortionon smell or taste, skin problems such as rashes and hair loss, and extreme fatigue.

Additionally, a majority of patients report memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and general “brain fog,” which Rahman describes as “a feeling of being out of touch with reality.With reality, some patients are so delayed in their responses that it is noticeable by family members.

PASC has even resulted in strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barré syndrome for some.

“How COVID-19 damages the brain remains unclear”, Trespalacios said. “However, whether this is a direct result of the virus itself causing the physical brain damage or its psychological and emotional effects, a large majority of COVID-19 patients – in addition to a much larger portion of the general population – suffer from significant health problems.continues with severe anxiety and depression.

In short, COVID-19 – whether acute or prolonged – is as devastating physically, mentally and emotionally, if not more than widely reported.

“COVID-19 is a multisystemic and heterogeneous disease that patients experiencence very differently, ”says Dr David Sousa, physician at Pulmonary and Allergy Associates. “So we’re doing multisystem screenshot to try and get the help people really need.

“We must have some idea of ​​the extent to which someoneis affected and create a plan for it, ”Sousa adds, noting that patients at his clinic are seen two to three times on average.

About Geraldine Higgins

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