What are 'long-hauler' effects of COVID-19?

Steve Schrader

Many COVID-19 patients are finding the road to recovery longer than they hoped. 

Steve Schrader came down with COVID-19 in mid-March. Now, over four months later, he’s still experiencing long-term effects. He’s back to 80% of how he used to feel normally. He says, “I think the 20% will be over a long period of time yet.”

As a result of COVID-19, Schrader experienced atrial fibrillation, tremors, diabetes and issues with lung capacity. “Recovery is long,” Schrader says. “A lot of it is with the lungs, because capacity isn’t there.”

COVID-19 can damage organs like the lungs, brain and heart for an unknown amount of time. Recovered patients have reported “long-hauler” effects in these areas:

•    Brain: headaches, fatigue, insomnia, vertigo and “brain fog”
•    Lungs: lung scarring, shortness of breath, chest pain and cough
•    Heart and blood: blood clots, heart arrhythmia, diabetes and hypertension

Even younger patients with COVID-19 can experience lasting effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 weren’t back to normal two weeks after testing positive. 

Since COVID-19 is a new disease, we’re still learning what long-hauler effects are likely, and how long they might last. With so many unknowns, it’s best to stay safe and avoid catching it in the first place.