According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 7.5% of American adults struggle with long COVID-19. It constitutes almost about 20 million people. The combined efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau and the Household Pulse Survey revealed that nearly 62,000 people participated in the survey, of which 40% confirmed they contracted the infection and about one out of five informed about their continuing symptoms. They also complained of chest pain, breathing troubles, fatigue, and cognitive problems that lingered after three months. Although it is difficult to pinpoint one single symptom that signals Long COVID, some common health problems in this condition include chronic pain, extreme tiredness, neurological and cognitive dysfunctions, etc.
While some studies believe this has been common in certain demographic conditions, others hinted women could be more vulnerable than men basis the rate of long covid symptoms among them, 9.4% vs. 5.5%, respectively. The same goes for specific races or ethnicities. For example, the Hispanic adult population formed nearly 9% of the long covid cases. Comparatively, white adults constituted 7.5%, Black adults 7%, and Asian adults 4%. Likewise, 15% of the transgender population reported long covid and 12% from the bisexual community. Those who belong to lesbian, gay, or straight communities witnessed about 7% of such occurrences.
Many studies have shown that vaccines can help minimize the risk of Long COVID in infected patients. The new studies also highlight that young people are more at risk of Long COVID symptoms, especially those aged 50 to 59. In terms of the location, U.S. states like South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama witnessed almost 12% of these cases. While the reason behind this is elusive, the NCHS survey hints at the low adoption rate of vaccination in those areas. As per a recent study by MyBioSource, places like South Dakota (0%), Montana (13%), and West Virginia (8%) saw zero or least support for official measures intended to target the COVID-19 curve.
Long COVID conditions are new occurrences that signal either the return or continuation of the health issues experienced after recovery from the infection. The viral infection takes only a few days or weeks to recover, but if someone experiences symptoms after 4 to 8 weeks, it can be the case of long covid.
Causes of long covid
As mentioned by Chiangrai Times, there is no clarity on this, but some suspect lower vaccination rates and immune system overdrive can be the culprits. If someone faces long covid due to immune response, their bodies suffer from damage and inflammation. This revelation came from a notable infectious disease physician Dr. Michael Peluso. Some other studies believe abnormal blood clotting issues can cause long covid.
The high-risk individuals with long COVID-19 symptoms
Long covid can affect anyone who contracts the virus, including kids. Interestingly, U.S. research showed that the older population could be most vulnerable to this and may not have any prevention.
Treatment for long covid
Doctors can treat a patient based on their symptoms. Common occurrences include breathing difficulty, fatigue, heart problems, and cognitive and speech issues. Doctors can recommend respiratory therapy and exercises for lung health for patients facing breathing problems. For someone experiencing fatigue, physical therapists may suggest focusing on critical activities first and finding out the suitable exercises that don’t make them too tired.
Likewise, cognitive speech therapy can help people suffering from mental and speech dysfunctions after the infection. Their programs can focus on problem-solving, memory, attention span, etc. As for heart problems, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), patients can practice gentle exercises.
Duration of long-COVID
According to a study by the American Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, long covid conditions may trouble people for one year or more after the infection. It surveyed 156 people. The symptoms reportedly affected their physical activity, cognition, socialization, and other aspects of life. The study also revealed that almost 50% of the participants could not continue their full-time jobs after this.
Physiatrist Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez urges people to go for a checkup if they have a mild infection and do not recover fully. They can visit a post-COVID care clinic in their respective states. You can refer to the online directory to learn about those clinics. Some of them can be busy, so you may have to wait for treatment. In that case, it is recommendable to consult your primary care physician.
Long haulers need to focus on their lifestyle a little more to build their strength and return to everyday life. It includes taking several breaks between work and consulting a reputable occupational therapist. Exercising or physical activities are also essential, but one must make steady and gradual progress. One has to learn to prioritize their health over other things, which applies to other people in general also.
Earlier, the fight looked daunting because of the lack of tools. Today, the situation is much different. The pandemic has become less intense after scarring many people emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. It is just that one needs to be careful.