Lingering post-COVID-19 symptoms that hang on for four weeks or longer after an initial COVID-19 diagnosis affect some people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term symptoms can appear with mild or severe cases of COVID-19. Symptoms are wide-ranging. They can include difficulty breathing, fatigue, brain fog, cough, rash, chest or stomach pain, mood swings, diarrhea and lightheadedness.

Currently, estimates vary on how many people may experience lingering post-COVID symptoms. Estimates may also change as more is understood about the condition, Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for COVID-19 Response at the CDC. Brooks spoke in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. His lengthy remarks were published online by the CDC on April 28 at www.cdc.gov/washington/testimony/2021/t20210428.htm.

Further, medical experts report that a long-term post-COVID condition, regardless of the symptoms or severity, can go by many names. These names include long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, chronic COVID, post-COVID syndrome or simply long COVID-19. By whatever name it is called, sufferers claim the symptoms affect their daily lives and last for a very long time.

Maraiah Russell, 42, was vaccinated for COVID-19 in April 2021. She tested positive for COVID on July 27.

“I had a fever of 101 degrees for three to four days, I felt really terrible,” she said. “I had head and body aches and just felt awful. I cried very easily. I was crying at everything,” she said.

Bedrest and time may have helped a little.

“I think maybe just because I felt so bad I stayed in bed for about a week straight from the time I tested,” she said. Adding, “Eventually my fever broke and things lightened up a little bit, but I still felt really achy and really tired.”

Russell’s initial symptoms foreshadowed the lingering post-COVID symptoms and a general feeling of malaise she was about to experience. She currently reports lingering nausea that comes and goes.

“After I eat I might feel OK for a little bit, but then I have nausea now and then…Your head is floating and your body is aching,” she said.

At other times, brain fog and a decreased sense of taste and smell bother her.

“I have also had the brain fog. It is very much a roller coaster,” Russell said. Adding, “I also lost my sense of smell and taste, but it came back little by little.”

How long Russell’s symptoms might last is unknown. The intensity of the symptoms compared to what others may be experiencing is also undetermined.

“I just have a nagging persistent ‘cruddy’ feeling that is just enough to slow me down and make me uncomfortable but not enough to really impede anything,” Russell said. Adding. “I am coping with it and trying to take it easy.”

Russell, serves as the preserves and program steward for the Little River Wetlands Project and has returned to work full time. However, she has traded her more physical outdoor chores for desk duty. Currently, she only takes on outdoor projects as her post-COVID symptoms permit.

Karen Butler, 49, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 26, 2020. Her bout with the virus was mild and lasted about five days.

“I didn’t really feel bad the whole time I had COVID. Just some sinus pressure. I had very mild symptoms,” she said.

Butler’s only lingering symptom has been a diminished sense of taste and smell that continues to affect her daily life.

“I still don’t have my smell and taste back 100% yet. I would say in the last month it’s has probably come back about 70%,” she said. Adding, “I am expecting a full recovery — hoping for a full recovery,”

Nevertheless, Butler reports, no medical professional has yet told her that she should expect to completely recover her senses of smell and taste.

Butler, who works for the city, was vaccinated for COVID-19 last June.

Dick Conklin, 76, who is a diabetic, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June 2020. In November 2020 he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I have no idea where I got it,” Conklin said. Adding, “My experience with COVID was all messed up with a variety of other things happening at the same time.”

His senses of taste and smell has been significantly affected since Christmas 2020.

“I don’t know if that is related to the chemo treatment I have had, or if it is related to the experience of having COVID-19,” Conklin said.

Conklin received his two-dose Moderna vaccinations over February and March of 2021.

Currently, he reports being COVID-free.

“I have adjusted to the difference in taste and smell. I guess I am just living with it,” he said.

Currently, the CDC has many studies underway that are focused on learning more about prolonged post-COVID symptoms. The studies are looking for answers to a variety of issues.

These include: who is likely to get post-COVID symptoms, how common are long-term symptoms and what treatment or treatments are most effective in resolving post-COVID-19 symptoms.

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