Clinics address long-term COVID-19 effects

BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said he’s dealing with lingering effects from a Covid-19 infection. Tatum, who tested positive in early January, recently complained about the virus’s effect on his breathing.

“I have experienced some games where I don’t want to say struggling to breathe but you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal,” he said.

Fatigue and shortness of breath are two of the more common post-Covid symptoms, along with muscle and joint aches. And then there is the phenomenon that has come to be known as ‘brain fog.’

“You know, I know it happens as you get older and that type of thing, but this is something totally different,” said Shelly Sullivan, who recovered from a Covid infection in mid-December, but continues to suffer neurological effects.

“It’s just kind of foggy,” she said “Just out of it. Kind of spacing out I guess you’d say. And depression almost. Just feeling down.”

Post-Covid symptoms have become so common that some area hospitals have set up clinics and programs to deal with patients needing continued medical services. Emerson Hospital in Concord is one of them.

“There’s a huge portion of the population that has gotten the virus, survived it at home, even with some mild symptoms, but still have these lingering symptoms weeks to months afterward,” said Matt O’Connor, a physical therapist who works with recovered Covid patients at Emerson. “General rule of thumb: If you’re really concerned about symptoms that you’re having after Covid it’s never too early to get it looked into.”

The Emerson program addresses neurological issues using a speech therapist, O’Connor said, as well as ongoing pulmonary and cardiac issues using medical doctors.

“A lot of people have been going to their PCPs describing their symptoms and they’re either written off or not really understood,” O’Connor said.

That’s likely because many of the lingering symptoms tend to be vague -- or easily confused with other conditions or even with lifestyles.

But a new study found that even those with less serious Covid infections -- who did not require hospitalization -- commonly complained of still feeling ill after technically recovering from the infection.

The research, which appears in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, found that 75 days after diagnosis, 62% of patients still felt poorly -- and nearly half met the clinical definition of ‘fatigue.’

Global health authorities worry that the pandemic could leave in its wake many needing secondary medical care -- and no one yet knows the long-term consequences of organ damage caused by Covid-19.

Emerson Hospital’s Post-COVID Recovery Program: If viewers want more info or make an appointment they can call: 978-287-8200 or click here.

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