Fewer and fewer people are being infected with COVID now, as cases have been declining over the past few months. In fact, reported infections are currently at their lowest point since April, according to The New York Times. But even as President Joe Biden says the "pandemic is over," not everyone in the U.S. is free from the impact of the coronavirus. Many Americans are still dealing with lingering effects from their infections known as long COVID, and now a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is shedding more light on the issue. Read on to find out what the agency says 80 percent of people with long COVID have in common.
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Millions of Americans have developed long COVID.
If you're struggling with lingering issues after being infected with COVID, you're certainly not alone. Long COVID is hard to pinpoint, so there's no way to know exactly how many Americans are suffering with this condition. But in June, the CDC found that nearly one in five of all U.S. adults who reported having COVID were experiencing symptoms of long COVID.
In August, new research from Brookings Institution indicated it's likely that around 34 million working-age Americans (adults between the ages of 18 and 65) have had long COVID at some point, with 16 million still struggling with post-coronavirus conditions.
A majority of these people have one thing in common.
It appears that a significant portion of the millions of Americans struggling with long COVID share one thing in common. On Oct. 5, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics released a report highlighting some of the common problems afflicting long COVID patients in the U.S. According to the study of over 50,000 Americans, 15 percent of all adults who previous had a COVID infection are currently experiencing symptoms of long COVID, as of Sept. 26.
Of the estimated 24 million people with long COVID, 81 percent report trouble with performing daily activities. About 25 percent also said that the limitations they're experiencing in their ability to carry out day-to-day activities were "significant." And the highest rate of long COVID sufferers sharing this symptom were adults aged 18 to 29, of which 86.3 percent reported trouble performing daily tasks.
There are hundreds of long COVID symptoms you could have.
Long COVID can include "a wide range of ongoing health problems" that may last indefinitely, according to the CDC. Some of the most common post-COVID symptoms include tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life, symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort, fever, difficulty breathing, cough, brain fog, and sleep problems. "Living with a post-COVID condition can be hard, especially when there are no immediate answers or solutions," the CDC says.
But Brittany Baloun, a certified nurse practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic, told WebMD that of the more than 200 symptoms linked with long COVID, there is one that stands out the most: constant fatigue that interferes with daily life. "We often hear that these patients can't fold the laundry or take a short walk with their dog without feeling exhausted," Baloun said.
Certain people may be more at risk for long COVID.
With millions of cases already estimated, the CDC says that anyone who was infected with COVID can experience lingering effects. But there are some people who may be more at risk for developing long COVID. This includes people who have had a more severe COVID illness, those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care, people who had underlying health conditions prior to infection, those who did not get a COVID vaccine, and people who experience multi system inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after their illness, according to the agency.
"Some people are at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 because of where they live or work, or because they can't get health care," the CDC also notes. "Health inequities may put some people from racial or ethnic minority groups and some people with disabilities at greater risk for developing post-COVID conditions."