WKYT Investigates: COVID-19 long haulers
COVID-19 case counts might be lower compared to this time last year, but there are still people fighting the effects of the virus.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - COVID-19 case counts might be lower compared to this time last year, but there are still people fighting the effects of the virus. COVID long haulers suffer far more than the average patient. Long haulers spend weeks, sometimes even months, with lingering side effects.
“I have experienced everything from continual migraines that lay me out,” notes Heather Parrish. She and her two parents are considered long haulers. " One of the biggest is probably just extreme fatigue.”
Heather was the first to contract the virus last summer. Her parents, who she lives with, contracted it a few weeks later. Her mother was in hospitals for more than two months. All three have technically recovered, but they still feel the effects of the virus.
“The real turning point was when I could tell that I didn’t think the same way. I didn’t feel like the same person,” says Parrish.
Dr. David Dougherty, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Health Lexington, says the research is so new on this virus that its long-term effects are hard to treat.
“Right now it’s mostly symptomatic treatment. If you’re having heart issues or lung issues following with a cardiologist or a pulmonolgist may be necessary,” notes Dr. Dougherty. “Locally and nationally people that have had COVID and have had long haul symptoms have shown some improvement in those symptoms after vaccination.”
Studies show the COVID-19 vaccine could improve long haulers’ symptoms, but Dr. Dougherty says the studies are not final. Right now, evidence is anecdotal. Heather Parrish has found her own way to bring comfort to long haulers like herself - though a support group on social media.
“I wanted to help people, but I also wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one. And I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one, and that there are many people with varied experiences of long haul symptoms,” says Parrish.
To join her support group, visit facebook.com/groups/134948164844417/
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