Two years into the pandemic, long-haul COVID-19 patients are still sick, hoping current research will find effective treatments.
NBC 7 spoke with a long hauler, doing her best to live with her illness, and a pulmonary specialist who is sharing tips about how to recognize and manage lasting COVID-19 symptoms.
Post-COVID syndrome symptoms can be new, returning, or ongoing. They can last from months to years after a COVID-19 infection, according to the CDC.
Yvette Paz, a veteran, contracted COVID-19 for the first time two years ago. She had to be admitted to a hospital for five days. She got infected again in December 2021, and to this day, she still has symptoms that she tries to manage while going to school and working security at public events.
“Little shift in the weather and I’m back in bed, and it’s not like a little sick, it’s like I’m in bed for two or three days,” said Paz, at times coughing during the interview.
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Dr. Mouhib Naddour, with Burr Heart & Lung Clinic at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, is a pulmonary specialist who treats several of his patients sick with long COVID-19 symptoms.
The first signs of Post-COVID are symptoms that last longer than twelve weeks after the COVID-19 infection. Most common are fatigue, trouble breathing, change or loss of taste and smell, brain fog, headaches, and dry cough to name a few of a long list of symptoms.
Doctors can treat asthma, but science has yet to find a specific treatment for post-COVID. There are several studies underway, including a $1.8 billion National Institute of Health study, that is funded by Congress.
Naddour told NBC 7 there is something you can do.
“Patients, especially hospitalized patients, I advise they should have a follow-up after they leave the hospital,” said Naddour.
He said also identifying any comorbidities like diabetes or heart failure can help doctors pinpoint worsening conditions and treat them. Naddour said doctors can then determine if a patient needs an X-ray or a CT scan, for example.
As for why some people get it and others don’t?
Naddour told NBC 7 it’s still a question the medical and scientific community is working to answer. There is data that suggests the more severe a patient got infected with COVID-19, the more likely they are to develop Post-COVID symptoms.
As for Paz, she was a healthy and fit woman before COVID-19. A veteran, she said the one silver lining to her situation is taking a step back and reevaluating the life she almost lost.
"I look now two years later and I don’t, I guess the reality of that kind of makes you look at your life and go what am I gonna do now? I almost died. So I went back to school and I graduate this May," said Paz.