ROCHESTER, Minn. - Some COVID-19 patients are experiencing symptoms long after they tested positive for the virus. Most commonly called long hauler patients, but doctors at Mayo Clinic call this Post COVID Syndrome and there's no specific reason as to who experiences this and why.
Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn said patients can have a variety of different symptoms with this condition, but they're primarily seeing fatigue and shortness of breath. He explained on average, patients fully recover after 4 months. But on rare occasions, some patients are still battling symptoms a year later. Dr. Vanichkachorn said there's no correlation with pre-existing conditions. Learning how to properly pace yourself after getting COVID-19 instead of jumping right back to your normal living is key. "So patients will hit the gym, go for a long hike or things like that and this will in turn result in those dazed hours of fatigue," he explained. "This is something that we have seen in other post viral conditions as well as conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."
The important thing to note here is you're no longer contagious when experiencing Post COVID Syndrome. Dr. Vanichkachorn said some long haul patients who get the vaccine say their symptoms completely disappear. "At first, I admittedly thought okay this is just a random occurrence, but it's happening enough at this point that our team is at least starting to look at this and thinking about doing some research in this area," he explained. "There's some hypothesis out there that think that maybe somehow the vaccine resets the immune system, sort of a reboot so to say."
Dr. Vanichkachorn said a lot of people are seeking help about this condition and because of that Mayo Clinic has expanded over the past month, creating a new program called Post COVID Care Clinic to help patients 3 to 6 months after infection. This week, they're launching a support group specially for patients with Post COVID Syndrome. Mayo Clinic is also planning to do a lot of research in this area to look at how this condition might effect minority groups and pediatrics.