Understanding COVID-19 Long-Haulers Can Help Us Better Understand Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

As we’ve learned more about individuals facing long-term symptoms from COVID-19, we have heard more and more about how it mimics other chronic conditions. For instance, those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome have similar symptoms to some COVID-19 long-haulers.

Now researchers are discussing how COVID-19 long-haulers are helping us learn about other chronic conditions.

The Research 

Researchers have long known that viruses can have long-term effects on the body. In this way, the effects we’ve seen from COVID-19 aren’t strange or new.

What was new with this pandemic was the scale of symptoms and, of course, the widespread nature of the virus.

However, COVID-19 has made doctors recognize that we need to be more aware of the long-term consequences that other viruses may be having on patients.

Doctor Al-Aly from the VA St. Louis Health Care System recently conducted a study on long-hauler COVID-19 patients. The study can be found here. He found that those who faced long-term effects had an increased risk of death by 59% in the first 6 months after their original COVID-19 diagnosis.

Dr. Al-Alay is also evaluating other facets of life after COVID-19. For instance, he is examining what opioids (and how many) are prescribed for patients facing long-term symptoms. Since long-term use of opioids may have unintended consequences, this investigation is critical.

Of course, COVID-19 is not the same as all other viruses. Partly, this is because it can influence almost every organ system. However, it is also similar to common viruses in many ways. As noted earlier, this is particularly true for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Therefore, these studies of COVID-19 may also benefit individuals facing other conditions or viral effects.

Since the symptoms are so similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, we could develop better therapeutics, symptom management, and overall understanding of the disease with further research on COVID-19.

One of the best thing that has come from this linkage, is the greater awareness to the lingering effects of viruses. When doctors are more aware of this potential, they will be less likely to dismiss patients who say they are facing lingering symptoms.

You can read more about this new research here.

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