As the government prepares to declare the end of the public health emergency on May 11th, concerns are growing about people who got COVID-19 but never got rid of the symptoms – it’s called long-COVID, which means symptoms last for more than a month. But for some people, their health has been impacted for years now. Washington University in St. Louis has the very latest details on what could be a lifetime of COVID-caused health problems.
“That night, my oxygen level dropped really low. I didn’t think I was gonna make it,” Julie painfully remembers.
That was the beginning, but Julie’s COVID-19 symptoms lasted long after she tested negative, and a year and a half later, her life is still not back to normal.
“It feels like someone is taking and they’re just squeezing my heart,” she expresses.
Epidemiologists are finding long-COVID is more than just a respiratory disease.
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine clinical epidemiologist, Ziyad Al-Aly, MD explains, “In some patients, it can manifest as heart attacks or heart failure.”
It also impacts a patient’s brain.
“A lot of patients are actually having strokes and we found that people are having brain inflammation. People are having symptoms that are almost reminiscent of Parkinson’s disease or early Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Al-Aly adds.
In fact, people who suffer long-COVID are at an increased risk for 44 conditions of the brain. Analyzing 150,000 COVID patients, doctors also found long-COVID can cause a spike in cholesterol and gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, Gerd, and it can impact liver function.
“It’s, really, a lot of different things that can manifest differently in different patients,” Dr. Al-Aly says.
And some people may feel the effects for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Al-Aly emphasizes, “Long after this pandemic recedes from public view, we’re gonna be left with the legacy, or the aftermath of this pandemic.”
With the government ending the public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11th, it means that responsibility for payment for COVID vaccines, testing, and treatment will switch to insurers. Depending on your insurer, you may have to pay a co-pay for the vaccine, testing and treatments related to COVID-19. Over-the-counter tests will no longer be covered.