NOTE: What I write today is true today. New information is rapidly emerging and updates are forthcoming when relevant.
QUESTION: What does long covid mean?
ANSWER: Long covid affects about 10 to 30 percent of people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 when their symptoms last longer than 28 days from the day of onset of their first symptoms. The disorder is yet to be completely understood.
QUESTION: I hear the hospital has a comprehensive program for patients with long covid. What can you tell me about it?
ANSWER: Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center created a Long Covid Rehab Clinic.
Patients enter into a multi session program designed specifically for the symptoms they are experiencing.
The program will include physical therapy, exercise physiology, speech therapy, nutrition, occupational therapy and neurological interventions.
The aim of the program is to improve overall function and symptom improvement. The program is cash based but may be covered by insurance for some patients, which will be determined after initial evaluations. For more information, call 719-530-2200 extension 2579.
QUESTION: So now that I know there is help for me, tell me more about long covid. Who is most affected?
ANSWER: Women compose about 70 percent of those with long covid. There is no age or race or geographic predisposing trend.
QUESTION: Does long covid include people who had severe COVID-19 with prolonged recovery which might be typical of any protracted major illness.
ANSWER: The terms long covid or long haulers include a mix of people, including anyone who has symptoms longer than 28 days.
There are physicians who will not include those who are recovering from severe COVID-19 after long stays in the Intensive Care Unit. In general, the medical community does not include those with protracted convalescents after severe ICU hospitalizations.
QUESTION: For those who had COVID-19 and were able to stay at home recovering, does that mean they will not develop long covid?
ANSWER: No it does not. There are even people who have had mild symptomatic cases who have developed long covid.
QUESTION: How long do those with long covid have symptoms?
ANSWER: A majority of people with long covid have symptoms for four to five months.
QUESTION: I hear the vaccines make some people with long covid better. Is that true?
ANSWER: There is new data showing about 30 percent of people with long covid who got vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) get substantially better or have complete resolution of their symptoms. In the same study, about 5-10 percent got worse by self report.
QUESTION: What are the most common symptoms of long covid?
ANSWER: The most common symptoms based on a recent study from Northwestern University include brain fog, headache, numbness and tingling, dysgeusia (altered sense of taste) and anosmia (loss of sense of smell), myalgia (body aches) and fatigue.
As might be expected, when interviewed, people report diminished quality of life. The Northwestern University was published recently in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
QUESTION: Are there any pre-existing medical conditions that might predispose a person to long covid?
ANSWER: Currently there is not a relationship with pre-existing medical conditions and developing long covid.
QUESTION: Is there any hope for those people who lost their sense of smell?
ANSWER: Some people who have lost their sense of smell have found a home self-guided training program helpful. One free program can be found at ascent.org.
INFORMATION: For more information about COVID-19, testing and the vaccines, eligibility and appointments, see the links below.
Pharmacies will be getting small shipments of vaccines in the near future. Information will be posted in this newspaper and on the county public health web pages.
Pharmacy vaccine resources: Safeway Pharmacy, Salida Pharmacy on F street, Buena Vista Drug, La Grees in Buena Vista and Valley-Wide Health.
QUESTIONS: If you have a COVID-19 related question, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will attempt to answer it in the next few weeks.
Dr. Lydia Segal is trying to be a retired board-certified family practice doctor who also has a Masters in Public Health.(In a former life she was a general assignment reporter for a newspaper in Arizona. ) Currently she also co-teaches at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center with the pelvic physical therapists classes on men’s and women’s health.