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The Long Term Effects of COVID-19

PublishedOct15,2020

Byline: Allison Olenski, MPH, RN, CHES, CPH, Clinical Editor, Interactive Patient Education

Long COVID, long haulers, post-viral syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis. These are all terms that you may come across when reading about the long-term effects of COVID-19.

“Long haulers,” as they have come to call themselves, report suffering from shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of smell, difficulty with concentration and memory, and chest pain for weeks to months after their initial illness.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of these accounts is that patients experiencing these long-term effects come from both ends of the spectrum in terms of severity of disease course. These effects have been seen in those recovering from severe disease and long-term hospitalization, but also in those who experienced a mild to moderate disease course that they managed at home. This is especially concerning for those healthy individuals who experienced a mild illness and were not tested due lack of access to testing. Now they are experiencing long-term effects and may not be receiving appropriate attention because there is no documented exposure.

We are still learning what this post-viral syndrome is and what we can do about it. With the incidence of COVID-19 increasing in younger age groups, we need to be aware of the potential for young, healthy individuals to experience long-term post-viral effects. There are numerous studies and trials currently underway trying to understand what this condition is, what to call it, who is affected by it and why, and how to treat and/or prevent it.

This week on the Daily Rounds, we are sharing content that focuses on the long-term effects of COVID-19. We hope you find this information insightful. We don’t know what the long-term will look like or how long this pandemic will last, but we can continue to study, to learn, to gather and analyze data, and to take care of our patients so that we can improve their outcomes and learn how to live with COVID-19 as we have with so many other viruses.

Editor

Allison Olenski
Allison Olenski

MPH, RN, CHES, CPH, Clinical Editor, Interactive Patient Education