June 18, 2021 ~ CNN ~ Jen Christensen

As the pandemic in the US slows, the fight against ‘long haul’ Covid is on

Dr. Michael Saag normally cares for Covid-19 patients, but early in the pandemic, he became a patient. Now, he has joined the ranks with lingering symptoms from a condition doctors are still trying to understand.

In Saag’s case, Covid-19 was never so bad he had to be hospitalized, but he spent 15 days isolated in his room, and he got better — mostly.
His brain fog persisted. He was easily out of his breath. His heart raced. These symptoms lasted six weeks post-infection.
Saag felt good enough to go back to work at University of Alabama Birmingham, but even after other symptoms cleared up, he experienced hearing loss and now wears hearing aids.
“It’s frustrating,” he said ruing a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Clinical Outreach and Communication Activity meeting Thursday.
Saag said he has met other patients with ongoing symptoms who are frustrated, too.
“They’d gone to their providers who said, this is in your head, or this is not something to be worried about, but it was pretty profound,” Saag said.
People sometimes called “long haulers” experience long Covidpost-Covid conditions, post-Covid syndrome — there’s no settled name. There’s also no diagnostic test, no specific treatment, no pill to take. And while research is ongoing, there aren’t large, peer-reviewed, gold-standard clinical trials yet either.
Some people get better on their own over time, or symptoms can be treated, but for others, recovery remains elusive.
This week, the American Medical Association adopted a policy to educate physicians and students on post-viral syndromes following Covid-19.
Also this week, the CDC also posted interim guidance meant to help doctors better evaluate patients with post-Covid conditions, even with so much uncertainty around them.

100 symptoms and little consistency

Post-Covid is an umbrella term that describes a variety of physical and mental problems that can follow four or more weeks after a Covid-19 infection, according to the CDC.
There are potentially hundreds of symptoms, including shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, fever, anxiety, depression, pain, a loss of taste and smell, difficulty thinking, a racing heart and many others.
Symptoms are not consistent. Doctors can’t predict what symptoms someone will have or who will get them, and symptoms can change over time, or disappear and then come back.
Sometimes, the fix seems relatively simple. Dr. Mitchell Miglis, an autonomic disorders specialist who works with post-Covid patients at Stanford Health Care said there are cases where he reminds people to watch their salt, or increase their fluids, or prescribes a beta blocker, and they eventually get better.
“We first try to control the symptoms and then use that as a bridge to get them more physically active and then treat all the components that we can,” Miglis said.
But not all symptoms are that easy to address. “We don’t really have a single treatment that addresses the underlying disease, because we still don’t know what’s causing the underlying disease,” Miglis said.

Millions might be affected

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