Evidence shows COVID-19 symptoms linger after recovery; survivors call themselves ‘long-haulers’

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Rick Farmer is a COVID-19 survivor in Southwest Florida. He says he continues to experience lingering symptoms even after he has recovered from COVID-19. Credit: WINK News.

New evidence shows two-thirds of people with a mild case of the coronavirus still reported symptoms 60 days after their symptoms first appeared. They’re calling themselves “long-haulers,” and we learned about a man’s months-long struggle and his plea to others.

Rick Farmer and his family went on vacation in June. When they returned, COVID-19 went with them.

“When I would try to take not even a deep breath, but a medium breath, I would start to cough uncontrollably,” Farmer said. “And I’m thinking, ‘Do I need to call 911? Because I couldn’t get my breath.”

Farmer has now recovered from COVID-19, but it’s still affecting his daily life.

“I’m definitely having issues with my head, and I’m afraid of that,” Farmer said. “I can’t find certain words that you would use normally. It gets tough to concentrate.”

Farmer is also experiencing headaches, vision problems and is on blood thinners.

COVID-19 survivors who are still fighting through symptoms call themselves “long-haulers,” and a new study backs them up.

“This is a study that came out of Europe that was basically examining people that had COVID and how were they adapting to their symptoms a couple months later,” said Robert Hawkes, the director of the FGCU physicians assistant program. “One of the big takeaways from the study was they were still showing some symptoms, with the most common being lack of smell, lack of taste, general tiredness and then some kind of residual or hanging on shortness of breath.”

Dr. Roger Shapiro, an associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says some people can have trouble rebounding back from the virus even after they’ve technically recovered.

“It may take a long time for people’s immune systems to settle down once they get COVID,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro says that could change how people feel about getting it.

“It might add more weight onto the scale of the people who say, ‘Well, it’s a mild disease, and it’s not such a big deal, and I don’t really care if I get COVID,” Shapiro said.

COVID-19 is not unique from other illnesses by creating “long-hauler” symptoms. The Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, also has a long-lasting effect as well as other infections such as Lyme disease.

“If someone like me, who you know and know takes care of themselves, got ill, then, it can happen to you too,” Farmer said.


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