If You’re Suffering After Being Sick With Covid, It’s Not Just in Your Head

from NYTs

When the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 ended, misery continued.

Many who survived became enervated and depressed. They developed tremors and nervous complications. Similar waves of illness had followed the 1889 pandemic, with one report noting thousands “in debt and unable to work” and another describing people left “pale, listless and full of fears.”

The scientists Oliver Sacks and Joel Vilensky warned in 2005 that a future pandemic could bring waves of illness in its aftermath, noting “a recurring association, since the time of Hippocrates, between influenza epidemics and encephalitis-like diseases” in their wakes.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, the worst viral outbreak in a century, and when sufferers complained of serious symptoms that came after they had recovered from their initial illness, they were often told it was all in their heads or unrelated to their earlier infections.

It wasn’t until the end of the first year of the pandemic that Congress provided $1.2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which led to a long Covid research initiative called Recover, in February 2021. A year and a half later, there are few treatments and lengthy delays to get into the small number of long Covid clinics. Frontline medical workers don’t have the clinical guidelines they need, and some are still dismissive about the condition.

Long Covid sufferers who caught the virus early have entered their third year with the condition. Many told me they have lost not just their health but also their jobs and health insurance. They’re running out of savings, treatment options and hope.

To add to their misery — despite centuries of evidence that viral infections can lead later to terrible debilitating conditions — their travails are often dismissed as fantasy or as unworthy of serious concern.

More here.

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10 Comments

  1. When Covid-19 was on the rise, I was someone who did not believe the sickness was that severe at all. Much like a lot of other people, and that is a significant reason Covid-19 grew at such an extreme rate. Before Covid-19, the world had experienced numerous illnesses and diseases; but Covid-19 sits in its own category. For instance, Covid-19 put the world on pause by forcing all of humanity to quarantine and stay isolated within their households. In my opinion, I believe we as a society helped Covid-19 grow fast. For example, when the government insisted people to quarantine, thousands of people did not listen, allowing the virus to spread quickly. All in all, Covid-19 is still a dangerous virus that continuously gets overlooked that needs to get more attention.

  2. The entire covid pandemic has felt like a blur of time and has taken a significant toll on my body and my mind. Like many Americans, at the beginning of the pandemic, I thought covid was a joke. In my head, it was an excuse to get two weeks off school. That was until two weeks turned into a month and then a year. Tufekci writes “[covid sufferers are] running out of savings, treatment options, and hope” which stuck out to me. I was privileged enough to receive the covid vaccine and the booster shot once it was available near me whereas there are people to this day who have not gotten access to the vaccine. Having covid is quite expensive; you have to buy a lot of medicine, cleaning supplies, and food to last you until you test negative all while you are out of work. Prior to this article, I had no idea “long Covid” was a thing. The article’s definition of long Covid is “having symptoms that can last more than four weeks or even months after infection”. Earlier this year, I had covid for around one and a half weeks and it was an awful experience. I was out of work for around two weeks, so I was losing a lot of income. I cannot imagine the amount of income lost by people suffering from long Covid. The scary part of long Covid is that it is difficult to determine if you suffer from it or not because covid symptoms are very similar to symptoms of a cold or the flu. I wonder how many people I know have suffered or are still suffering from long Covid. The article also mentions that people who had covid are more at risk of developing other illnesses and infections. A recent study by Danish researchers showed that there is an association between neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and covid. As much as I want covid to end, the truth is it will not end any time soon and the risk of getting it only increases; people in public and colleges have stopped wearing their masks and people do not stay home when they are feeling unwell, infecting those around them. Covid is not a joke, and it ruins the lives of many people. Sometimes I wonder how different life would be if covid never existed.

  3. When Covid-19 first made it to the news I thought that it wouldn’t be an issue for me since it was anywhere near my hometown. It wasn’t till I kept hearing about its spreading from state to state that it finally started to get me a little more serious about it. Then everyone got that 2 weeks break off school thinking it would just go back to normal and we’d be back in school in no time. 2 weeks turns into another week then after countless weeks it turned into months. During those months everything was electronic, everybody was on lockdown. At that stage nothing had felt real, only being able to stay in the house and not go anywhere. Unfortunately, I did come down with covid, but it wasn’t until way later in the year, my experience with it wasn’t that bad compared to others, it had felt like a typical cold to me it was a pain to always be coughing. I am interested in this “Long Covid” that is talked about in this article. I have heard about people who even after they have had covid they still have some symptoms that didn’t go away. I’ve heard about people still having no smell or taste with no explanation about why those senses have not come back yet. For me when I got over covid everything that was lost had come back to me so I would assume it’s random and just depends on who gets it. Overall, the whole idea of there being an airborne virus that can be deadly when it is in your system is a scary thought. I’ve heard of plenty of people and known some who have died due to the virus. However, they’ve had a history of being pretty healthy and its crazy to think about how it just came out of nowhere and is still a big threat till this day. However, it has been here for a couple years and the fact that they have made multiple vaccines and booster shots for the virus that seem like they should be helping but I still see people getting extremely sick with the vaccine or not.

  4. Covid-19 is single-handedly the most shifty topic in the last century. I feel like everyday the news is saying new things like “you need more vaccinations” and “masks don’t work”, which in my opinion makes citizens confused on what they are supposed to do. Personally, the Coronavirus has taken an extreme toll on my life. When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be no big deal and that it would be swiftly over. However, since I had that thought, I have had Coronavirus 4 separate times, lost a loved one, and have had to quarantine away from my family and friends for weeks. I completely agree that some of the frontline workers are too dismissive with the whole situation. In my opinion, money should have been funded to the CDC far earlier than it was. We, as a country, waited way too long and too much information was hidden to properly react to this. If we had reacted earlier, in my opinion, we would have had a lot less of severity in this country and we would not have gone into such a recession, like business closures and others. Coronavirus overall costs people a good amount of money if they catch it. First of all, they are usually not able to come into their workplace for a significant amount of time and are forced to quarantine for weeks which means they will be making no income. Also, they will be purchasing medicine, have medical bills, and so on. This can be very hard on low income households because the virus spreads very easily and if multiple members of the family catch it, especially those at risk, it can come with a bunch of hardships. The moment when I realized the disease was serious was when I lose my grandmother to it. I knew I was not at risk, and I guess that stuck in my head which is why I was not scared. She passed away, when before she had the virus, she was perfectly healthy and had no medical problems. I think the whole idea about “at risk” and “not at risk” was foolish to introduce to society. Everyone should always be masking up because that is the only way we are able to protect everybody. I wonder how much easier it would have been as a country if we responded properly to this virus.

    • Your response was interesting to read especially seeing how cognizant you are about the virus still being at-large. I feel like seeing it in our families is so devastating and can truly open our eyes in these situations. I do feel like because of being out of work for like a week, I try to be highly cautious wherever I am so I don’t miss out. I agree that many things were hidden from us, and if we had known earlier, we could’ve avoided a recession. I do think the media plays a role in the common misconception of the virus in general, and that’s why some people don’t understand the severity. I do also feel if we as a whole handled and responded in a proper form, we wouldn’t have felt the hit so hard and for a much longer time also.

  5. Covid-19 is a topic that is quite touchy and has affected millions of people. The media constantly has a post, a segment, everything about covid, especially regarding masks and vaccines. All this constant talk about vaccines and masks brings people into a frenzy; we never know who to believe or what to do. I had covid twice, and it’s not great and sometimes, I would think, “if only I wore that mask,” or “Thank God it isn’t worse because I got the vaccines” I’ve been quarantined and seen my family quarantine also. People believe that even though it hasn’t been as crazy as it was from the start, we can just forget about it and make believe it was never there, and it’s alarming that even frontline workers are so dismissive of it. I personally feel the CDC should’ve had the funding earlier on. It would’ve been much help not only to their legitimacy but helping them do their job. I also believe that much of the information was kept from us for so long that it hit us harder, and if we had known earlier, dealing with it could’ve been less impactful to the country as a whole. It costs a lot of money, a strain on our economy, the unemployment rates through the roof, and a decline in the work ethic of many people. It also requires being out of work for a long time; the medication and visiting the doctor virtually are also costly. It made it hard for me to live the lifestyle I had before. Adjusting mentally to the change was hard; seeing my dad suffer with it also affected my perception of the virus and its seriousness. The idea of “asymptomatic” and all the “at risk” was not helpful to the population either because everyone had a misconstrued idea of how serious the virus was. Also, the idea of “long covid” is interesting because I’ve seen it occur in people I know, the permanent loss of smell or still experiencing loss of taste, developing respiratory issues. Despite having taken all the vaccines and whatnot, I know that I’m not invincible and that this virus-like many others, isn’t something to be dismissed right away.

  6. Often, we think about diseases, like Covid-19, as something that happens to you, instead of something that you now have with you. However, many diseases, especially those that the body must work hard to fight off, require a lot of care and concern for and extended time after one would say that they are actually sick. I believe that we think like this because we as humans like to think of things in the simplest terms that we possibly can because that makes us feel comfortable. If we continue to think in this way, despite maybe being easier for us, we will continue to miss the nuances that are present in almost every topic. In our world now we have so much information, but we continue to think of the world in a one-dimensional view to make things less complicated for us. However, eventually we will have to accept the fact that the world is too complex for the average person to continue to think in simple terms. For most of humanity’s existence societies are made by a group of individuals in charge who control a population that does not understand how things actually work. This has continued into today as many people don’t care to learn how certain things like disease control work because we have organizations like the CDC set up to do that for us. At some point this will change as people learn that they have to think about the world in a different way in order to be successful in a complex world. Otherwise, the world will go back to the way that it was before with a large majority of people working for individuals that have all of the control. This is already taking place with the mega corporations that control large amounts of their employees lives but will only get worse as these companies get bigger and bigger.

  7. When COVID-19 started it wasn’t something that we all expected. I know there were many people that would say it was nothing that big. It would just go away. In this article it’s said that the pandemic from 1918-19 gave the people who survived became “ enervated and depressed”. Even other pandemics from other centuries. That they were “unable to work” and even left people “ full of fear”. If in the past the other pandemic left people unable to work but from this we should know that this pandemic and the one to come. That we need to take it seriously. When I first heard of COVID-19 I thought I was joke . I didn’t take it seriously, I was happy I wouldn’t have school. That online class would be so much easier. Thing now is that we clearly state that we are now “ running out of savings, treatment options and hope”. Even now that we all have the vaccines. That there is a cure for COVID. All the effects it had we are all still having it today. The article say that “someone with a single symptom just four weeks after illness can be lumped under the long Covid umbrella with someone bedbound for years.”. That even with one symptom that even if it go away you still feel like you have COVID. The outcome it has just like the other pandemic it’s not in our head. They are still suffering and there will keep being for years to come. That many of us are not quite back to normal weeks or months after recovering from COVID-19. Other symptoms are loss of taste or smell and headaches that affect their quality of life and ability to function. It’s still something that people still feel to this day. Things like now that COVID has somewhat had past there recovering things like they can’t think. Just right then some didn’t have anything because it something that is so big and had effect on everyone. Some people are “sick” enough to go to a hospital because how’s story of people. Many people report illnesses of COVID-fog. It states the dustpan description of long condos is too “vague”. That people are feeling a “brain fog” and are feeling as sharp as they were and are a little off their jogging times. They are experiencing a cognitive crisis and are unable to find words that are unable to get out of bed. It’s not all in your head and you are still sick from Covid.

  8. In March 2020, the entire globe came to a halt, as the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly ravaged communities internationally. Quickly, the pandemic extracted and exposed the numerous defects of the international health community, specifically its collaborative efforts, and on a national level, the lack of preparedness and organization. These areas of concern were especially prominent as infection rates rose, and lingering cases emerged, perplexing the greatest minds within the field. Scientists and healthcare professionals alike were astonished by the numerous individuals announcing, what they had defined as “long covid”, symptoms they continued to endure months following their initial illness, ranging from cold-like to debilitating in severity. Two years and a profound amount of credible research later, the United States has largely fallen short of the necessary steps to properly accommodate long covid cases, failing millions of Americans.
    Long Covid first began to emerge in the public eye only months into the initial shutdown, despite only obtaining scientific attention in the latter half of 2020. However, this attention wasn’t enough, as there was a lack of consensus on the facts and validity of the prolonged symptoms, with thousands of healthcare providers unknowledgeable of how to aid patients. This resulted in patients being told their self-diagnosis was a figment of their imagination, and not serious. Yet, even when a definitive label was established, it did not encapsulate or take into consideration the diversity in the range of long covid cases, creating delays in both diagnosis and treatment. Consensus and aggression are critical when researching post-viral illnesses, as they serve as a gateway to understanding a wide array of other illnesses, as well as how to provide effective treatment. It could be assumed nearly two million Americans have or are experiencing prolonged symptoms, rooted in initial covid infection dating back to March 2020, forcing many to lose their jobs or insurance along the way. Post-viral illnesses such as this have been the catalyst to illnesses and neurological issues similar to encephalitis, which is “an inflammation of the active tissues of the brain caused by an infection or an autoimmune response” (Encephalitis). With millions enduring such gruesome battles, the US and its international counterparts must act.
    Long Covid addresses a graver concern at its core, far beyond the prolonged illness itself, which is the lack of effective structure found within the national and international health systems. These entities have continuously failed to maintain a consensus throughout the pandemic, prolonging the duration of the entire crisis, while also failing to adequately begin research on treatments. Global and national health organizations could not come to an agreement on the mere existence of long covid for quite some time, never allocating necessary funding for research and trials. Yet, even when obtaining funding, the trials themselves were not sufficient enough for discovering useful data. This is a public health crisis, yet the world seems blind to it, as there is not enough research to distinguish cases or aid. Nations continue to slash funding for pandemic preparedness and research, which leaves post-viral illnesses to lose traction in the medical realm. It is easy to infer that in the coming years, we may discover mass amounts of new long covid cases, will these people be able to obtain the treatment they need? Or, will the health entities allow millions to live in a constant state of suffering void of treatment as they slash pandemic budgeting?
    I think the best way to tackle long covid is to have multidisciplinary collaboration across borders, to research the various severities of the illness. Such a multidisciplinary and global collaborative action would comprise of intellects deriving from academia and private sectors, such as neurologists, psychiatrists, cardiologists, epidemiologists, and pharmaceutical companies, etc. Once this base of intellectuals is compiled, trails can commence in different corners of the globe, as this network aims to share new findings and trial data with one another, in an effort to sift which tactics are useful from what are not. The international community must call for a public health emergency as in the coming months or even years, long-covid cases will likely rise, creating a public health crisis. As past findings have concluded, post-viral illnesses can create fatal crippling conditions for some in the years following initial infection, long covid may be no different. The nation and globe cannot be blind to how its communities are suffering and must allocate the urgency and collaborative efforts to ensure the safety of all, especially as this will be a prolonged public health issue for the near future.

    Work Cited
    “Encephalitis.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 8 Aug. 2021, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/encephalitis#:~:text=What%20is%20encephalitis%3F,light%2C%20mental%20confusion%20and%20seizures.

  9. The most dubious subject of the 20th century is unquestionably Covid-19. I believe that the news is constantly reporting new information, such as “you need more vaccinations” and “masks don’t work,” which, in my opinion, confuses the public as to what they should do. I’ve personally suffered greatly as a result of the coronavirus. When I originally learned about it, I assumed it would be of little consequence and would end quickly. But since I had that idea, I’ve had the coronavirus four times, lost a loved one, and needed to spend weeks in isolation away from my family and friends. I wholeheartedly concur that some frontline employees treat the matter too casually. I believe that funding for the CDC should have begun far sooner than it did. We as a nation took far too long to respond to this and far too much information was kept secret. In my opinion, if we had responded sooner, the severity of the situation in this country would have been much less severe, and there would not have been a recession with things like business closures and other things. In general, getting a coronavirus costs people a lot of money. First off, they are frequently required to stay in quarantine for weeks and are unable to report to work for long periods of time, which means they are unable to earn a living. Additionally, they will need to pay for drugs, medical expenses, and other things. Due to the ease with which the virus spreads and the potential troubles it might create if numerous family members contract it, particularly those who are at risk, this can be particularly difficult for low income households. When I lost my grandma to the sickness, I really understood how serious the condition was. I suppose the fact that I was not in danger stuck in my mind and prevented me from becoming afraid. Prior to contracting the virus, she was in great condition and had no health issues. I believe it was unwise to introduce the concept of “at risk” and “not at risk” to society. Everyone should always be wearing a mask since it is the only way we can keep everyone safe. I wonder how much simpler things would have been if we had handled the virus correctly as a nation.

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