‘Long-haul’ Covid-19 patients share experiences of persistent symptoms
Cape Town - A Covid-19 survivor aims to shed light on a phenomenon associated with contracting the virus, known as “long-hauling”.
Long-hauling – and the person affected with it referred to as long-hauler – is when Covid-19 symptoms linger for longer than anticipated, even after they have been cleared of the virus.
Some of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 long-hauling are body aches, joint pain, coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, restlessness, headaches, and brain fog.
Kuils River resident Jennaveve Steyn, 36, said she still experiences some symptoms of the virus, months after having tested positive on August 19. Steyn was hospitalised after her condition had worsened, on August 25.
“Not a lot of people know about the long-haulers. After having Covid-19 in August and ending up in ICU on the ventilator for three weeks, all in all a month in ICU, when I was discharged I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from having gone through all of the trauma. I am seeing a psychologist, a psychiatrist and an occupational therapist. It has affected my memory, my concentration,” said Steyn.
“I am still struggling with nightmares. I have loss of hair, bloody nose, I get tired very quickly. I can't walk too far or my lungs feel extremely heavy. I would get back pain. I'm exhausted a lot of the time when I'm at home. I have my ‘on days’, but my off days are bad because it feels like I cannot get out of bed. There are people who are not aware and are not sympathetic to what we are going through.”
Steyn has been prescribed four different medications, including as antidepressants, sleeping and antipsychotic medication.
Health Department medical specialist Hassan Mahomed said: “It is now well established that a subset of people who have had Covid-19 have persistent symptoms and this is referred to as ‘long Covid’. There are special clinics at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg for this.”
Mohamed advised affected individuals to speak to their doctor regarding this, and arrange a referral to a suitable specialist should the need arise.