Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC, is the medical term used to describe people suffering from the long version of COVID-19. More commonly referred to as long haulers, this group of individuals experience prolonged symptoms of the virus anywhere from several weeks to months. And many of those who suffer from it didn’t even know they had COVID because they only had mild symptoms—to start.
Yesterday, before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, the National Institutes of Health announced an “unprecedented” large-scale study to research PASC, as well as announcing grants for others to help solve it, too. “Some of you have been suffering for more than a year, with no answers, no treatment options, not even a forecast of what your future may hold,” NIH Director Francis Collins said. “Some of you have even faced skepticism about whether your symptoms are real. I want to assure you that we at NIH hear you and believe you.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has gone into detail about the health issue that so many Americans are struggling with, revealing exactly what it is and the main symptoms to look out for. Read on to learn about long hauler syndrome—and don’t miss all 98 Sure Signs You May Have Had COVID and Not Known It.
PASC is a “very important issue” that the CDC and government are taking “very seriously,” per Dr. Fauci. “The first thing we can say, this is real. This is not imaginary. These are people whose symptoms are real.” He also pointed out that the symptoms and condition itself are “really variable” affecting no two people the same. “Different studies say anywhere from 25 to over then 35, 40% of individuals have prolongation of symptoms that measure not only in weeks, but in months,” he said, describing some as “completely incapacitating.” Keep reading for the symptoms, according to Dr. Fauci.
Dr. Fauci describes long hauler fatigue as “profound.” In fact, many long haulers maintain that their exhaustion is so intense, that it keeps them from performing daily duties such as their job or going to school. Many even struggle to get out of bed.
Muscle aches and pains are a common symptom of COVID-19. However, according to Dr. Fauci, those who identify as long haulers continue to experience discomfort for months on end.
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Fever and chills are other symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 that just won’t quit for those with PASC. Some Long Haulers have a consistent fever; temperature fluctuations are not uncommon, as your body thinks it’s still fighting the virus. “The degree of temperature elevation might reflect the severity of inflammation,” reports a study in Critical Care.
For those suffering from PASC, “unexplainable tachycardia” is quite common. Dr. Fauci describes it as “a rapid beating” of the heart that is unexplained. “Usually when you exercise your heart beat goes much quicker,” he says. However, for long haulers, “they’re lying in bed and their heart rate is 110 to 105, 115,” which is “distinctly abnormal for someone who’s sitting down or in bed.”
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Brain fog, which Fauci defines as “just a strange feeling of being unable to focus or concentrate for any period of time” is also a common complaint of long haulers. Brain fog is also a trademark symptom of Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), which Fauci has said PASC resembles. Says the CDC: “Most people with ME/CFS have trouble thinking quickly, remembering things, and paying attention to details. Patients often say they have ‘brain fog’ to describe this problem because they feel ‘stuck in a fog’ and not able to think clearly.”
Unfortunately, there is still a lot to be learned about long hauler syndrome, including “the percentage and the duration of it.” However, there seems to be a “commonality of symptoms.” If you think you might be a long hauler, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible or reach out to one of the regional post-Covid care centers around the country. And get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.