A physician in New York started developing symptoms of COVID-19 in March, so she waited two weeks before returning to work, she told Business Insider.
She went back to work at her hospital, which was overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, Business Insider reported. On her fifth day back, she could barely climb the stairs without having trouble breathing, according to Business Insider.
“I had, again, the flood of emotions of disappointment and anxiety about what will happen. When will the end?” she said. “Will I ever be able to work normally? Will I be there for my children?”
In the following months, she tried meditation, supplements and stretching, but nothing helped, she told Business Insider.
Many coronavirus patients have experienced the symptoms of COVID-19 for months, even after testing negative, The Atlantic reported. Doctors have called people who have long-lasting symptoms of the coronavirus “long-haulers,” according to WSMV.
“A lot of these patients get turned away,” said Dr. Ramzi Asfour, an infectious-disease doctor in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Business Insider. “The infectious-disease doctor says, ‘Well, there’s no evidence of any infection,’ and the oncologist says, ‘You don’t have a blood disorder or cancer,’ and the pulmonologist doesn’t know what you have. So then you’re left in this limbo.”
On day 77, Paul Garner said it “has been like nothing else on Earth,” according to The Atlantic. Garner is an infectious-disease professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who waited 63 days after experiencing symptoms to get tested to preserve testing for health care professionals, The Atlantic reported.
On day 63, Garner tested negative for COVID-19, according to The Atlantic.
“I knew I had the disease; it couldn’t have been anything else,” Garner told The Atlantic. “I don’t understand what’s happening in my body.”
Doctors aren’t sure what’s going on either. Dr. Todd Rice, director of the ICU at Vanderbilt University Center, says it’s unclear why symptoms persist in some patients, WSMV reported. He theorized that long-term effects could be a result of inflammation or sedatives used for people on ventilators, according to WSMV.
Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist, received his diagnosis in April and has experienced persistent symptoms more than two months later, Today reported. Krakower visited Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who prescribed him with the steroid dexamethasone, which is used to treat inflammation, according to Today.
“What we’re seeing is that this is a byproduct of the inflammation from the virus itself. In other words, dead fragments of virus elicit an immune response,” Glatter told Today. “And as a result of this, the body reacts and produces certain types of substances that can really have adverse effects.”
The steroid is not approved for treatment of COVID-19, according to Glatter. But Krakower said within 24 to 48 hours, his shortness of breath and trouble talking and swallowing improved, Today reported.
“If it wasn’t for that IV, I really don’t know where I would be right now,” he said.
Several forums and social media groups have been created for long-haulers. Body Politic created a COVID-19 support group page in March after the founder and creative director was diagnosed with coronavirus.
“Instagram feeds filled with tips on navigating boredom during quarantine, or how not to catch the virus, we felt increasingly isolated, misunderstood, and ignored,” the website said. “With news of infection rates rising, we knew a community of people like ourselves existed, and was growing — we just needed a way to reach each other.”