Why are they still sick? The latest clues in the mystery of the long devil COVID-19


More than five million people have died because COVID-19. But there is concern that the number of people infected could be much higher, because of the number stretcher continue to increase.

It can happen to anyone and at any age, and there is growing evidence that people with mild or no symptoms, may be at risk for Long-Term COVID.

It is different in each person and is proving to be a challenge to treat. Experts say there can be more than 100 different symptoms associated with this condition.

Read more:

‘We are not prepared’ – What it takes to recover from a long COVID

Unexplained pain, exhaustion and heart palpitations

Katy McLean used to be a vivacious, active and well-proportioned person. Today, this 43-year-old woman spends most of her time indoors, moving from chair to chair due to extreme fatigue and Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which makes her feel tired if she stands. too long.

“When I stood up, my heart rate went up a lot. So it goes up like 100 and 120 in the first 60 seconds that I’m standing,” said McLean, who lives in Vancouver, BC.

“And so it felt like I was running and my blood pressure dropped, and then I got dizzy and felt nauseous.”

McLean was first infected with COVID-19 in September 2020. She said she was starting to get better but in February of this year she had a relapse and all of her initial symptoms returned. Occur again periodically.

Katy McLean creates a video diary to track her progress with Long COVID-19.

Katy McLean

“I had trouble breathing, chest tightness, palpitations, extreme fatigue, crazy headaches, dizziness. I also lost my sense of smell and taste again,” she told Global News New reality.

“I was in a lot of pain. I’m so weak… I can’t really bathe myself. I can’t eat solid food,” McLean said.

“I really thought, like, ‘this is it, like, I’m going to get worse until I’m gone.’ I’m really glad that didn’t happen.”

Jesse Greiner, medical director of the COVID-19 Recovery Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, said the symptom profile was varied, including headache, mainly brain fog, difficulty in perception… and all the symptoms associated with paresthesia such as numbness and tingling in the toes .

“I think the virus does something to the internal workings of the body in a way that we don’t fully understand yet. And it’s really debilitating for the patient.”

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Elias Campbell / Global News

Jesse Greiner is medical director at St. Paul in Vancouver. He is also one of Katy McLean’s doctors.

During McLean’s relapse, she said she lost the ability to walk because of neurological symptoms affecting her legs.

In June 2021, she started to improve but still relies on a walker to get around.

“I started switching to a four-wheel walker, which is what I use now when it comes to appointments. I am grateful to have been able to make that progress. And if I’m walking a short distance, I can use the cane now,” McLean told Global News.

Click to play video:'Coronavirus: How the brain is affected by COVID-19'

Coronavirus: How the brain is affected by COVID-19

Coronavirus: How the brain is affected by COVID-19 – 12/12/2020

Are vaccines helpful with long-term COVID?

Ken Borg, who contracted COVID-19 in March 2020, said: “It was so scary and why I call it one of the worst days of my life.

Since the 60-year-old man contracted the disease very early in the pandemic, he never got tested and had all the symptoms. Borg said he eventually received a COVID-19 diagnosis over the phone from his doctor.

“It was probably the sickest time I’ve felt in my life,” he said, adding, “I get heart palpitations every day.”

Every day is hard for Borg. He had to admit to himself he was a long hauler. But in May 2021, Borg got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and he says he’s already feeling better.

“A lot of things have improved,” said Borg.

Ken Borg remained ill with Long COVID for nearly two years.

David de la Harpe / Global News

In the last year, experts say there have been some anecdotal stories of people getting better after being vaccinated, but they’ve also heard the opposite.

“There are a small number of patients who feel like the vaccine has cured them, although that is not persistent in all cases,” Dr. “It’s difficult to say because there’s still so much that we don’t understand about how long COVID works.”

Although Borg is feeling better than before, he told Global News he is still suffering from a high heart rate and he doesn’t know why.

Brain fog and neurological changes

Erica Taylor had symptoms similar to McLean after she became ill with COVID-19 in June 2020. Now, more than a year later, her number one problem is her debilitating brain fog. she.

“I sometimes have trouble concentrating. Sometimes I have trouble finding a word I’m looking for. … Sometimes I can’t see what’s right in front of me. Sometimes I can’t recognize ordinary objects,” Taylor told Global News from her apartment in Atlanta, Ga.

Erica Taylor has a brain breakdown. She has been suffering from Long COVID for over a year.

Jeff McGovern / Global News

At first, the 33-year-old nonprofit attorney tried to keep working, but she was struggling with brain fog and remembering things. She was forced to take a leave of absence for about 10 months.

Now, Taylor is back at work, working from home. She’s not 100%, so she had to create a reminder system on her phone, including one that reminds her to brush her teeth, to get her through the day.

“I want to be the person I used to be.”

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She runs a program every Saturday where volunteer attorneys are paired and interviewed with clients. She starts the day like, “I tell them I have mental problems and I’m forgetful,” she says, adding, “I still get them to come back and ask me questions like, “Do you intend to send me this? ‘ ‘No, no, I don’t have one. I’m sorry. This is the letter I want to send you. ‘”

Are there many women with long-term COVID?

Dr. Igor Koralnik and his team at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Ill. Investigating long-term COVID and potential causes of the syndrome.

Igor Koralnik with a patient at the Neuro COVID-19 clinic in Chicago, Illinois.

Northwestern medicine

He oversees the COVID-19 Neuro Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and has seen hundreds of patients since opening the clinic last year.

“Most of the population going to the clinic is younger. They were never hospitalized before… but then they develop persistent, persistent and also debilitating neurological symptoms, including brain fog,” says Koralnik.

“Interestingly, 70% of those patients are women.”

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While there is no definitive answer to show that COVID-19 is more likely to affect women than men, Koralnik has theorized that the syndrome could be a form of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system attacks its own body by mistake.

Clues to autoimmune disease

“We know that women are more likely than men to have an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis… and so it is likely that these patients develop persistent COVID syndrome, in fact May be a manifestation of autoimmune diseases. as well,” he said.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about 60% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 report one or more symptoms more than 12 weeks after their initial infection. So you can imagine how many people will be affected.

“When we talk about COVID, we talk about hospitalizations and deaths. … That’s really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo said.

“And below the tip of that iceberg, we think that’s a significant burden of disability and disease that will drag people along for life.”

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Ziyad Al-Aly is a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Yavor Vesselinov / Global News

Al-Aly said he turned his attention to researching Long COVID-19 after reading personal stories of long-sufferers describing their struggles with the condition.

“It was one thing that opened my eyes… there’s something going on here. And it really deserves to be investigated and soon commended, they even gave the disease a name,” he notes.

So Al-Aly and his colleagues worked to study more than 70,000 records from the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) who survived COVID-19 for at least 30 days after being discharged. diagnosed and never had to be hospitalized. What they discovered was that some people with long-term conditions developed serious chronic conditions that may require treatment for the rest of their lives.

Click to play video:'A group of COVID-19 traveling athletes urges Quebec for more help'

A group of COVID-19 lovers call on Quebec for more help

A group of COVID-19 long-term traders appeal to Quebec for more help – October 22, 2021

Chronic conditions and persistent COVID-19

“What we do know now, we do know that COVID 19 may cause or may lead to an increased risk of new-onset diabetes and new-onset kidney disease. And what we do know about these diseases is that these chronic illnesses don’t go away,” said Al-Aly, who is also director of research and development services for VA Saint Louis Health Care Systems.

“And the concern is that those ramifications will reverberate in every aspect of our lives for decades to come.”

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This means that the burden of COVID-19 and, subsequently, the post-COVID situation could have a lasting impact on society and health systems long after the pandemic is over.

That’s certainly true for Katy McLean, who can no longer work because of stretching syndrome.

“For me to try and do a normal activity, there is a price to pay. So my body doesn’t have the energy to perform activities of daily living,” says McLean.

But she is still determined to do her part well. McLean is part of research investigating the condition and hopes her contribution will help lift the curtain on this mysterious illness.

“It’s a bit scary because it’s so strange to have a novel disease with no known prognosis. But I think given the circumstances, that’s the best I can do at the moment to help. It’s the only thing I can do at the moment to help,” she said.

Without any definite answer, McLean had to find a solution for himself. She takes daily supplements and visits a physiotherapist to boost her strength.

And while she worries she’ll never heal, McLean stays focused on the small, incremental improvements she makes over time.

“I know we all miss things from before the pandemic. But for me, the thing that I miss the most is that I am a person who loves to walk. I just love hiking and getting out and about hiking,” she said. “I don’t know if I can do those things again, but I’m satisfied right now just being able to walk around the block without major impacts.”

Suffering from long COVID? Here is a Canadian support group: Long Covid Canada

Watch this and other original stories about our world on The New Reality which airs Saturday nights at 7pm on Global TV and Online. Why are they still sick? The latest clues in the mystery of the long devil COVID-19


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