Up to one-third of COVID patients have lasting symptoms, doctors say

Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Medical experts have found up to one-third of COVID patients continue to experience symptoms months after testing positive.

“I genuinely can’t get out of bed without help,” said Kalie Ellison, a 27-years-old who tested positive for COVID about two months ago. She said her symptoms haven’t improved.

“I hyperventilate when I stand up. I can’t get a good breath whatsoever. It’s difficult to do anything. I lost my job. It’s been hard,” she said.

Ellison said she’s constantly exhausted and has stabbing chest pain.

“I’ve gone to the ER where they gave me oxygen and just said its COVID,” she said. “Some people have long lasting symptoms.”

Dr. Lisa Soltani, an internal medicine doctor at El Rio, said there are a wide range of long haul symptoms including muscle weakness, brain fog, lack of concentration, sleep disturbance, insomnia, prolonged loss of hair, taste and smell.

She said PTSD is another symptom that can happen when a person is losing loved ones, experiences unexpected loss of health, vitality and the stigma of isolation.

“They’re bearing witness to just so much trauma,” she said.

There’s no approved treatment for long haulers but there’s research being done to create medications.

“Know that we recognize your disease is real. We have empathy and compassion for you and are working to identify ways to get folks feeling better,” Dr. Soltani said.

She said the vaccine may also help prevent or reduce some of these long-haul symptoms. The Arizona Department of Health Services is providing free telehealth consultations for patients with long lasting symptoms to find ways to help them feel better.

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