Kyle B. Enfield, University of Virginia
A patient of mine, once a marathon runner, now gets tired just walking around the block. She developed COVID-19 during the 2020 Christmas holiday and saw me during the summer of 2021. Previously, her primary care doctor had recommended a graded exercise program. But exercise exhausted her. After months of waiting, she finally had an appointment at our post-COVID-19 clinic at the University of Virginia.
She is hardly alone in her extended search for answers. Studies suggest that from 10% to 45% of COVID-19 survivors have at least one of the following symptoms three months after recovery: fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, difficulty with daily activities or mental fogginess, otherwise known as “brain fog.”
There are many names for this condition: long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19 syndrome and chronic COVID. Patients report that their symptoms, or the severity of them, fluctuate over time, which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult.