COVID-19 survivors continue to feel symptoms months after with Long Hauler Syndrome

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:23 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Many people are experiencing symptoms long after they have recovered from the Coronavirus and medical professionals are calling this the Long Hauler Syndrome.

One New Orleans woman is still experiencing COVID-like symptoms seven months after her diagnosis and it has completely changed her life.

This year has been a year of change for Kelder Summers after she tested positive for COVID-19 early on.

“For some reason, I don’t know, I just felt really tired all of a sudden. I felt tired,” says Summers.

A few weeks later she found herself in the hospital.

“And I didn’t know what was happening and I was already afraid. So it was really bad.”

Summers spent 10 days in the hospital until she recovered. But seven months later she would still feel the effects even though she was no longer positive for the virus.

“It’s just been, sometimes I struggle to find the words I want to say.”

Brain fog, memory loss, fatigue, chronic pain are all the symptoms Summers continues to endure. Something doctors call Long Hauler Syndrome.

“People’s ability to work, to do regular daily activities is really impacted and we need to study this more to provide treatment for managing these individuals,” says Dr. Fred Lopez with LSU Health and Sciences.

Dr. Lopez says there is a spectrum when it comes to who suffers from lingering symptoms and researchers are just beginning to recognize that Long Hauler Syndrome is real and affects nearly 10 percent of those who have been infected with COVID-19.

“What’s interesting is that the people that develop these symptoms of Long Hauler may be very young. They may be very old. They may be previously healthy people,” says Dr. Lopez.

The general public still needs to worry about COVID-19 because the effects, the Long Hauler symptoms can be quite debilitating.

Another infectious disease physician, Dr. Markallain Dery says when it come to Long Hauler Syndrome, it will be very difficult and could take years to figure out.

How can a person go about their day-to-day? What are some things that could get it right?

“There is nothing,” says Dr. Dery. “There’s no medications.”

With other infectious diseases like Ebola or SARS, Dr. Dery says he’s seen patients have chronic fatigue issues six months to three years after recovery. Something many COVID-19 survivors are learning to cope with in the meantime.

“Sometimes, like today, I went to the mall and I’m just walking around and the next thing I know, I have to sit down because I can’t, the stamina isn’t there,” says Summers.

Summers says each day is different but she is coping.

Dr. Dery says there are social media groups made for those struggling with Long Hauler Syndrome and it can be a helpful way to share experiences.

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