COVID-19 Long Carriers Still Suffering Months After Diagnosis

CLEVELAND — It can start with something as simple as a cough or a stuffy nose. But some people diagnosed with COVID-19 are still dealing with much more severe symptoms months later.

Taquita Brown was a sophomore nursing student at Cuyahoga Community College when she started having a headache. She found out she had COVID-19 and her symptoms got worse.

The headache became so severe that “my vision became blurry,” she told News 5. It affected her ability to read or focus on her studies. The mother of two had to take a break from school. That was in August of 2020.

Now, in November 2021, “my taste and smell is still abnormal,” she said. “Sometimes I’m not even hungry because food doesn’t taste good.” She also still gets headaches, something that never happened before she got COVID-19. We spoke with MetroHealth rheumatologist Dr. Elisheva Weinberger on how doctors define these so-called Long Haulers.

“We use ‘long-hauler’ for people who have persistent symptoms after their acute infections,” she said. The formal diagnosis is Post-Acute Sequelae or SARS-CoV-2 Infection, or PASC. This means that a patient still has symptoms 12 weeks after the initial acute infection. And the doctor said there are numerous symptoms to watch out for. The most common are fatigue, brain fog including difficulty concentrating, confusion and memory loss, and shortness of breath and gastrointestinal problems. But some patients may also experience chest pain and palpitations.

“A lot of people feel really alone, and they feel like people don’t understand what they’re going through and don’t understand their struggles and don’t believe them when they say, you know, they can barely understand. Going through a day without going four hours. sleep that day,” she said.

There are some risk factors associated with your chances of getting PASC. If you have a more serious acute infection, one that requires hospitalization, you are more likely to have these long-term problems. Women are also more likely than men to experience long-term effects, as are those with a higher BMI and those with more than five symptoms at first infection. If you’re dealing with these long-term effects of the virus, Weinberger told News 5, there is help.

“You’re not alone,” she said. “There are many people who struggle with the same and know that we are here to listen and that we believe you.” Brown hopes to be part of a solution. She is part of a six-month pilot program designed to address the specific challenges faced by the African American community in our area when living with Lung COVID-19. ‘The Long Haul’ was funded by a grant from the COVID-19 Rapid Fund and kicks off with an event on Saturday.

Brown told News 5 that she hopes her story will convince everyone to take this virus seriously, get the help they need and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities.

“A lot of people think this is a game like they don’t believe in it. I tell them it’s real. It’s real,” she said. “This disease kills people.”

“I Am a Survivor” is scheduled for Saturday at Christ Pentecostal Church, 10515 Chester Ave., Cleveland. Doors open at 4pm, the event starts at 5pm You can get a free ticket here.

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