Northwestern Study: Brain Fog, Fatigue Persist for COVID-19 Long Haulers Months After Infection | Chicago News

Wheaton resident Emily Caffee, 36, was a competitive rower before she contracted COVID-19. (Credit: Emily Caffee)Wheaton resident Emily Caffee, 36, was a aggressive rower earlier than she contracted COVID-19. (Credit score: Emily Caffee)

Wheaton resident Emily Caffee, 36, was a aggressive athlete earlier than she contracted COVID-19 in 2020.

“Earlier than my an infection, I used to be working as a hospital bodily therapist – a really bodily, cognitively demanding job – coaching six days per week for indoor rowing competitions,” Caffee mentioned.

Her preliminary signs – physique aches, fatigue, chest ache, coronary heart palpitations and dizziness – in March 2020 obtained worse over time and she or he needed to take medical depart for 3 months. She says she went from being a “very lively individual to barely with the ability to stand for five minutes with out getting very acutely dizzy.”

Greater than two years after her preliminary an infection, Caffee says she’s “made principally a full restoration,” however nonetheless experiences fatigue and cognitive signs.

Her expertise with lengthy COVID-19 isn’t distinctive.

A brand new Northwestern Drugs research of 52 lengthy haulers, who weren’t hospitalized and solely skilled delicate signs like cough and sore throat, discovered that the majority continued to expertise neurologic signs, fatigue and compromised high quality of life as much as 18 months after their preliminary an infection.

The research is the longest follow-up of its sort about lengthy haulers who weren’t hospitalized, based on Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious illnesses at Northwestern Drugs.  

“We had been shocked by the persistence of many of the debilitating neurologic signs of our sufferers,” mentioned Koralnik.

Dr. Igor Koralnik, left, examines a patient. (Credit: Northwestern Medicine)Dr. Igor Koralnik, left, examines a affected person. (Credit score: Northwestern Drugs)

The research is a follow-up of Northwestern’s March 2021 research that discovered 85% of lengthy haulers skilled 4 or extra neurologic signs that impacted their high quality of life. For the brand new research, researchers analyzed sufferers six to 9 months after their preliminary go to to the Northwestern Drugs Neuro COVID-19 Clinic.

Between lengthy haulers’ first and follow-up appointments on the clinic, there was no important change within the frequency of most neurologic signs, together with mind fog, numbness/tingling, headache, dizziness, blurred imaginative and prescient, tinnitus and fatigue, based on researchers.

Lack of style and scent decreased from 63% and 58%, respectively, at preliminary appointments to 27% and 21% at follow-up appointments, respectively.

Researchers discovered will increase in coronary heart fee and blood stress variations (35% vs. 56%) and gastrointestinal signs (27% vs 48%) at follow-up appointments in contrast with preliminary visits.

“This is likely one of the stunning points of this research (and) signifies that these signs seem late after onset and should be taken care of accordingly,” Koralnik mentioned. “(These findings) recommend disfunction of the autonomic nervous system that oversees all of the issues we don’t want to consider our physique.”

Of the 52 sufferers within the research, 73% had been feminine and the common age was 43. Whereas 77% of contributors obtained a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers say vaccination didn’t have a constructive or detrimental influence on cognitive operate or fatigue.

“(Vaccination) didn’t treatment lengthy COVID and it didn’t make lengthy COVID worse,” Koralnik mentioned. “We encourage sufferers to get vaccinated and boosted based on CDC suggestions.”

As new COVID-19 variants emerge, researchers will proceed to review the illness.

“What occurred in March 2020 isn’t the identical as Could 2022,” Koralnik mentioned. “We’re continuously searching for higher methods to diagnose, deal with and handle these sufferers and in addition (discover) a trigger for lengthy COVID that could possibly be handled with numerous interventions.”

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]

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