The novel coronavirus continues to baffle leading health experts. It would seem that for some, even after recovery from COVID-19, lasting symptoms persist negatively affecting a person’s life. Fatigue and fogginess have been reported as lasting symptoms making even the simplest tasks impossible. Why?
Doctors report feeling weak or foggy after normal tasks has become a distinct pattern among patients with long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19.
It reminds them of another condition that’s also still somewhat mysterious: chronic fatigue syndrome.
Patients experiencing chronic fatigue — known clinically as myalgic encephalomyelitis — often “crash” or “relapse” from simple activities such as taking a shower or going to the grocery store.
They may feel dizzy or weak from standing up too quickly, or struggle to think clearly.
Some patients may become bed-ridden for several days or weeks, without feeling better after sleep or rest.
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What the experts say
“There’s talk in the medical community about a chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness that could happen after coronavirus,” said Dr. Nate Favini, the medical lead at Forward.
“Unfortunately, there will be a small subset of people for whom that becomes the case and these symptoms really do become a chronic thing that you’re dealing with for years.”
“It’s very poorly explained and it’s poorly treated,” Dr. Frances Williams, a rheumatologist and professor of genomic epidemiology at King’s College London.
She added: “The medical community is still not terribly accepting of the existence of such a thing.”
In a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), fever equated to 87.9 percent of infected patients, dry cough 67.7 percent and 38.1 percent for this flatlining feeling.
Fatigue, tiredness, brain fog, flatlining and an inability to arise after sleeping are all potential symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.
Some people have reported feeling a brain fog, also known as mental fatigue, as another symptom of coronavirus.
Though researchers are just beginning to study the relationship between chronic fatigue and the new coronavirus, they have some past clues from SARS patients who were infected in 2003.
Health experts aren’t quite sure what causes chronic fatigue, but the syndrome can be triggered by infectious diseases like Lyme disease or Epstein-Barr virus.
Why is fatigue and fogginess linked with COVID-19?
Based on what doctors know so far, blood clots may be one reason some COVID-19 patients feel fatigued.
An aggressive immune response to the virus could also trigger inflammation in the body that damages healthy tissue.
“We think that people’s baseline immune system predicts who will get chronic fatigue,” Dr Frances Williams, a rheumatologist and professor of genomic epidemiology at King’s College London.
Her research team is currently examining the link between the coronavirus and chronic fatigue syndrome among adult twins.
Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, acknowledged the fatigue and fogginess being lasting symptoms of COVID-19 last month.
He reported that the symptoms in many of these unrecovered patients are “highly suggestive” of myalgic encephalomyelitits, the disabling illness also known as chronic fatigue.
“This is something we really need to seriously look at,” Fauci said.
The link between long-lasting chronic fatigue and COVID-19 patients provides a warning about the pandemic’s potentially devastating long-term health effects.