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COVID-19 Symptoms Linger In 'Long Haul' Patients, Scientists Search For Answers

 January 12, 2021 at 10:18 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 People who test positive for COVID-19 typically have symptoms like coughing or headaches that can last for a few days or a few weeks, but for a small number of people, those symptoms can linger for months and cause debilitating illness. Even after they test negative CAPP radio, Sammy, Kayla has been reporting on scientists who are researching, why as they push to support those so-called long haul COVID patients. Speaker 2: 00:27 Last June, Michelle Soji was diagnosed with COVID with a runny nose, a dry cough, and some difficulty breathing. It was a relatively mild case, but that wasn't the worst of the illness Speaker 3: 00:39 Until I got COVID. I was very healthy. I was running 10 Ks. I was climbing mountains that were 13,000 feet, huh? Speaker 2: 00:47 Months after she tested negative for COVID 25 year old Soji is still having trouble breathing and is constantly fatigued. This is a recording. So she took of herself on a recent stroke. Speaker 3: 00:57 It's like my lungs are in this cage. And every step that I take every, uh, every breath that I try to inhale, uh, it's pressing against that cage Speaker 2: 01:15 This fall. So Jay started getting care at a new UC Davis clinic for long haul patients like her. It's one of a handful of centers launched in recent months by doctors looking to treat and study the chronic effects of COVID-19. Dr. Bradley Sandersville is a pulmonologist at the UC Davis clinic. He says treatment can include physical therapy or monitoring of lung performance. Speaker 3: 01:35 The focus of our clinic is really just to get people, someone to listen and talk to, and try to work through their symptoms as best that we can. You don't have all the answers, but at least we can Speaker 2: 01:48 About 10% of COVID patients have symptoms lasting more than a month, and a smaller number remained sick for three or more months. That's according to a UK survey San at UC Davis says long haul COVID patients. Don't keep testing positive for the virus. Most are negative. After about two weeks, the virus makes some kind of long-lasting change to the patient's body. That's according to Dr. Greg [inaudible] at the Mayo clinic, Speaker 4: 02:11 We're thinking about maybe this is related to a hyper immune state or hyper inflammatory state where the body is sort of stuck in this mode of trying to fight an infection Speaker 2: 02:23 And says, it's possible that the antibodies produced while fighting a COVID-19 infection are actually impeding the way the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Speaker 4: 02:31 Now that there are many more people infected with COVID and surviving the acute illness. Um, I think we're going to be seeing a lot more patients, uh, report the long-term difficulties. And this is just going to be a significant medical concern that we're going to have to deal with as a country, as we go forward Speaker 2: 02:49 A few months into the pandemic long haul patients like Soji started connecting an online forums and an attempt to solve the medical mystery. One Facebook group has nearly 33,000 members. Soji says online support groups have been a huge, Speaker 3: 03:04 I think that the main struggle that we face as long haulers is the feeling of isolation and the feeling of folks not believing us Speaker 2: 03:12 Soji was being treated at the UC Davis clinic for a while. But so she had to stop recently because her insurance no longer covers it. She's still learning to live with her current limitations. Now she's working on building enough stamina to be able to ride a stationary bike. I'm Sammy, Kayla Speaker 3: 03:33 [inaudible].

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Typically, people who contract COVID-19 experience symptoms for somewhere between a few days and a few weeks. But others, sometimes called “long-haul” patients, feel sick for months after becoming infected, even when their tests are coming back negative.
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