Kentucky doctors warn of lingering impacts of long COVID

Kentucky doctors warn of lingering impacts of long COVID
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 4:27 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - While your recovery time from COVID-19 may not have been longer than a week or so, experts say you could feel the lasting effects of the disease for up to two years.

It is called long COVID, and experts say it affects roughly one in five Americans.

“We call it long COVID. We Have called it long haulers. Basically, what it is is people after four weeks after they’ve had COVID, still having symptoms,” said Dr. Erica Gregonis, CMO & VP at Baptist Health Richmond.

The list of potential symptoms is long and includes fatigue, chest pain, heart palpitations, depression and joint pain, but doctors say long COVID may not affect everyone the same way. In most cases, though, the length of symptoms is closely connected to the severity.

“If you’re in the ICU, you’re gonna have symptoms longer than somebody who was at home,” said Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, CMO at UK Good Samaritan Hospital. “I would say of the ICU population, probably 50-60 percent of them have some sort of a symptomology. Of the people who were hospitalized but maybe not in the ICU, it’s less, and of the folks that were never hospitalized, it’s even less.”

According to the CDC, there is no test to determine if your symptoms are those of long COVID. They explain that symptoms which occur at least four weeks after infection from COVID is when long COVID could begin to be identified.

“It’s very hard to track it when we can’t yet clearly define it; however, that being said, the United States Center for National Health Statistics, when they did a survey through the Census Bureau, found that in Kentucky, our rates are higher than many other states,” said Ky. Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack.

That survey found that 17.4 percent of Kentuckians experienced long COVID nationwide. That number sits at a little over 15 percent.

Dr. Stack explains that there is no cure for long COVID, and the best thing we can do is focus on prevention.

That includes continuing to take COVID seriously, staying home if you are sick and getting vaccinated.