What are post-COVID syndromes?

KELOLAND.com Original

FILE – This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Lingering effects of COVID-19 are being called post-COVID syndromes and are a real concern, according to health officials.

According to the latest data released by the South Dakota Department of Health, more than 67,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the state since the pandemic started. Of those cases, more than 48,000 people are considered recovered.

But just because a patient is said to be recovered doesn’t mean they won’t still notice the virus impacting their health.

Dr. Wendell Hoffman is a Infectious Disease Specialist for Sanford Health. He says post-COVID syndromes can affect both physical and mental health.

“It can present in several different ways, primarily severe fatigue but also headaches, shortness of breath. Various different behavioral challenges, PTSD, depression and we’re very concerned about this,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said formal studies have demonstrated that some form of post-COVID illness will appear in high percentages of patients.

“Some studies in the 70s to 80s, even the 90% of patients depending, most likely, how sick they were from the get-go, but we really don’t completely know. Bottom line is we don’t want people to get this in the first place,” Hoffman said.

He continued to say that just because a person has lingering effects of COVID-19 doesn’t mean they are still contagious with the virus.

“We think that the best data still is that patients will stop shedding viable virus. They may continue to test positive, but may be only parts of what we call remnant RNA. They may continue to test positive for several weeks even out to several months. That doesn’t mean that it’s viable virus that could be shed. We have certain protocols that we have enacted that sort of help us decide whether or not that person might still be contagious,” Hoffman said.

Even if these post-COVID syndromes aren’t contagious, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some are almost as bad as when the person was experiencing the virus.

“My experience is that the debilitating fatigue, and I will say it is debilitating that occurs is from the COVID itself. It’s kind of like the analogy the tornado comes, the tornado leaves and the tornado leaves its damage. So, with these post-COVID syndromes, the tornado has come, the COVID has come, the COVID has left but it has left its damage. And it takes a while to pick up the pieces from that damage,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said, sadly, there’s no specific therapy for post-COVID syndromes.

If you’re experiencing any post-COVID syndromes, contact your doctor.

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KELOLAND News is covering the Coronavirus outbreak. We have created a guide to everything you need to know to prepare. We also have the latest stories from across the globe feeding into this page.