Posts

covid

Covid-19 Is Still A Part Of Our Reality: How The Virus And Our Immunity Has Changed

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 97% of people in the US have some level of immunity against Covid-19 through vaccination, infection, or both. Covid-19 infections are now on the rise again, and with the government slowing down on health and safety measures since the public health emergency was declared over in May, many individuals are wondering what to do as we enter this next wave of infections.

covid

New Study Reveals Details Of Lingering Covid-19 Symptoms After Infection 

A recent study published in Nature Communications has given a larger understanding over lingering Covid-19 symptoms experienced by people who contracted the virus. The study utilized electronic health records from the National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER Initiative. 

The study was led by Dr. Rainu Kaushal, the chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine and physician-in-chief of population health sciences at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The study gave a deeper insight into the reasoning behind lingering Covid-19 symptoms after one experiences an acute infection. 

Embed from Getty Images

The study also analyzed the likelihood of these symptoms and how they differ throughout various populations and demographics throughout the United States. 

“Long COVID is a new disease that is very complicated and quite difficult to characterize. It affects multiple organs and presents a severe burden to society, making it urgent that we define this disease and determine how well that definition applies among different populations. This paper provides the basis for furthering research on long COVID,” said Dr. Chengxi Zang, an instructor in population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine and lead author on the paper. 

The team utilized multiple research outlets to make their conclusions, including health records from two clinical research networks within the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. One set of data included information from 11 million New York-based patients, and another network that was utilized included 16.8 million patients from Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. 

The research conclusions the team came to showed there was a large list of diagnoses that occurred more frequently in individuals who had Covid-19 compared to those who didn’t. In New York City specifically, the researchers found that residents who had Covid experienced more types of symptoms and were at a higher risk of long Covid. 

Embed from Getty Images

Between New York City and Florida, populations had specific conditions including dementia, hair loss, sores in the stomach, fatigue, and blood clots in the lung. 

“Our approach, which uses machine learning with electronic health records, provides a data-driven way to define long COVID and determine how generalizable our definition of the disease is,” Dr. Zang said. 

“Some of the differences between the results from the two populations might be explained by the fact that New York City had a more diverse patient population, endured one of the first waves of the pandemic and faced the lack of personal protective equipment such as masks, compared with Florida,” Dr. Zang said.

“In this new research, we examined a broad list of potential long COVID conditions one by one. These findings can help us better recognize the broad involvement of multiple organ systems in long COVID, and design appropriate plans for patient management and treatment development,” said Dr. Fei Wang, co-senior author of the study.

cooking

New Study Suggests Women Leading Healthy Lifestyles May Reduce Their Risk Of Long Covid By Half

“Among the women who contracted Covid-19 during the study, 44% of them developed long Covid and of those women, the participants who practiced five or six of the healthy lifestyle factors lowered their risk of long covid by 49%.”

ICU

Severe Cases Of Covid-19 Linked To Long-Term Air Pollution Exposure

According to a study conducted in 2020 using healthcare data from 4,443 fatal cases of Covid-19, long-term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) correlated to an increased risk of severe/potentially fatal cases of Covid-19.

Experiencing Brain Fog From Long Covid? Here’s How To Cope 

Brain fog is a term used to describe feelings of mental fuzziness which can occur due to a multitude of reasons. The idea of brain fog has become more prevalent in recent years as it’s one of the most common symptoms associated with long Covid. 

Scientists are in the beginning stages of understanding how exactly Covid affects the brain, but there’s an increasing amount of evidence supporting that even mild to moderate Covid-19 cases can cause brain damage and trigger problems with memory, concentration, and overall functioning. 

In most of the cases associated with Covid-19, the brain fog typically resolves itself naturally within a matter of weeks. However, some individuals are developing chronic brain fog that persists for months, and maybe even years. 

According to James Giordano,a professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, “there’s something unique about the brain fog that comes with COVID. With most of these other conditions, brain fog typically resolves when the infection clears or the treatment stops. COVID, however, seems to cause a much more intense and sometimes long-lasting, widespread inflammatory effect — and the brain fog can persist for weeks or months on end.”

Embed from Getty Images

“The brain fog people experience with long COVID is most likely a result of direct and indirect inflammatory effects on the brain.”

Covid is known for triggering a massive inflammatory response within the body that could potentially cause tissue damage throughout the body depending on how severe the case is. Covid-19 can also directly impact cells surrounding the brain, which creates yet another inflammatory response which could result in brain fog symptoms. 

A recent study found that even mild to moderate cases of Covid can cause damage to the brain and a potential decline in cognitive function. 

“Now we are really seeing inflammatory changes in the brain, and those inflammatory changes disrupt the functional architecture of the way brain nodes and networks are operating to control certain aspects of cognition and behavior,” Giordano said.

“That’s one of the really fascinating things about this virus: Each body that it goes into, it can affect so differently. This makes it very hard to predict who will develop brain fog.” said Dr. Mill Etienne, an associate professor of neurology and medicine at New York Medical College.

“Age seems to also play a role, as older people are more at risk for experiencing cognitive issues after COVID. But even some young, otherwise healthy people diagnosed with COVID have found themselves struggling with brain fog,” according to Giordano. 

Embed from Getty Images

“You don’t have to have a severe case of COVID in order to have this long COVID syndrome,” Etienne said.

Giordano said the “specific symptoms of brain fog also vary from person to person. Some people experience fatigue after the slightest level of physical or mental exertion. It’s not just that they feel tired; they literally feel like they can’t do this anymore — in other words, they have to stop doing anything and just kind of rest.”

So what exactly can you do if you’re experiencing some level of brain fog after being sick with Covid? Etienne says most of the time the brain fog will clear up naturally over time, but unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone. 

Giordano advised “if you’ve been battling brain fog after COVID, try to acknowledge that you have it and recognize its impact on your daily functioning and quality of life. Consult with a physician and be specific about what brain fog feels like to you. Doing so will help your doctor develop a tailored treatment plan that will help mitigate the specific effects you are experiencing. In certain instances, medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended.”

It’s also recommended in general for individuals who are experiencing brain fog to keep as physically active as they can. While it may be difficult to do so, depending on how severe of a case you have, keeping your body moving keeps your brain active and can help it build up recuperative skills. 

“Lastly, get adequate rest and stay hydrated. People usually take those things for granted, but in this particular case, it’s rather important because both rest and hydration can be very recuperative to brain metabolism,” Giordano said.

Covid-19 Mutation

Majority Of Covid-19 ‘Long-Haulers’ Experiencing Multiple Brain-Related Symptoms 

According to a new study, 85% of Covid-19 “long-haulers” are experiencing at least four lingering neurological symptoms even if they weren’t hospitalized for their initial illness. The lingering symptoms include brain fog, headache, and the loss of smell and/or taste. 

The study was published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology earlier this week. Researchers claimed to analyze information from 100 Covid-19 long haulers from 21 states. All participants were seen in person or over video conference at the Neuro Covid-19 Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The study went from May-November of 2020, and none of the participants were hospitalized when initially infected with the virus. 

Embed from Getty Images

All participants claimed to experience Covid symptoms for more than six weeks, and on average they were seen for four to five months after their initial infection. Half of the participants had previously tested positive while the other half had tested negative but were still experiencing consistent Covid symptoms. The researchers of the study believed that all the participants who tested negative in the study likely did have the virus, but got it at the point in the pandemic when getting a test was nearly impossible.

“85% of participants reported at least four neurological symptoms. The most common symptom was ‘brain fog’ or trouble thinking, reported by 81% of participants; followed by headaches, reported by 68%; and numbness or tingling, reported by 60% of participants. More than half reported problems with their sense of taste or smell; 47% reported dizziness; 30% reported blurred vision; and 29% reported ringing in the ears,” according to the article. 

According to a previous study posted by Live Science Magazine last year, “‘long COVID-19’ is an important emerging entity requiring multidisciplinary expertise and care. It’s unclear how many people have long COVID, but some studies suggest that about 30% of people with COVID-19 experience lingering symptoms up to nine months after their diagnosis.”

Embed from Getty Images

Study author Dr. Igor Koralnik claimed in a news conference that it’s likely millions of people are experiencing long Covid symptoms, so these studies are important. He also noted that more than 40% of the participants claimed to have struggled with anxiety and depression throughout their lives pre-pandemic, so more research is currently being done to see if there’s a link to mental illness and the long-Covid symptoms. 

“About 70% of participants were women, which matches the sex ratio seen in some other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which affects three times more women than men,” the authors wrote.

The authors also noted that this study was extremely preliminary and small, pointing out that a majority of the patients were white, and there’s a chance a lot of the long-haulers with negative Covid tests may have never had the virus to begin with. Researchers are planning on continuing these research efforts and are starting with analyzing how certain immune systems respond to Covid-19 proteins.

Elder Woman Wearing Mask

Who’s At The Greatest Risk Of Experiencing ‘Long Covid’?

A recent study linked age and number of Covid-19 symptoms in a positive individual to longer-lasting health problems brought on by the virus. What they found specifically is that women aged 50-60 are at the greatest risk of developing “long Covid,” which is when positive Covid patients experience ongoing symptoms for weeks, or months, after they’ve already beat the virus and are considered to be negative. 

Dr Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London led the study which analyzed data from 4,182 Covid Symptom Study App users who had been consistently logging their health status after testing positive for the virus. 

Embed from Getty Images

In general, based on the App data, women were twice as likely to suffer from Covid-19 symptoms that lasted longer than a month when compared to men in the same age bracket, however, after the age of 60 everyone’s risk level is relatively the same; under the assumption that they don’t have any other underlying health conditions. 

Increased age was a general association that came along with the heightened risk levels for long Covid. 22% of people aged over 70 in the study reported suffering from symptoms for four or more weeks after their initial diagnosis. For comparison only 10% of individuals aged between 18 and 30-years-old reported the same experience. 

Gender differences only appeared for individuals aged between 50 and 60-years-old, where the data suggested a women’s risk was nearly double that of a man in the same age range. Professor Spector claims these results aren’t entirely surprising, as the same trend exists for autoimmune diseases in general in relation to how they impact men versus women of that age. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Things like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are two to three times more common in women until just before menopause, and then it becomes more similar. My guess is that gender differences in the way the immune system responds to coronavirus may account for this difference in risk.”

The study has also not been peer reviewed yet but it is available for viewing in preprint. The results also showed that individuals who experience five or more Covid-19 symptoms within their first week of developing the virus are at a heightened risk for experiencing long Covid symptoms as well. 

 “There’s certainly a group of long Covid sufferers that have this multi-system immune–like disease, where they get gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes, nerve problems and brain fog – so the whole body is involved rather than just one bit,” claimed Spector, who went on to explain that the immune system is likely working differently in individuals who experience these multiple body system symptoms. Those individual’s immune systems have to work a lot harder and for a lot longer to get the entire body back on track when compared to patients who contract the virus but only experience minimal to no symptoms. 

The study also suggested that individuals who have preexisting health conditions such as being medically overweight or having asthma and other respiratory diseases could increase ones risk to long Covid.

Long Covid Virus

New Research Examines ‘Long Covid’ Patients Experiencing Ongoing Coronavirus Symptoms

Scientists are defining “Long Covid” as the long-lasting impact of coronavirus infection for certain patients who continue to feel symptomatic weeks after being deemed negative; which may be affecting people in four different ways. People living with long-term Covid-19 symptoms could have a certain psychological element to the reasoning behind their lingering symptoms, however, new research suggests these patients need more medical support.

Most individuals who test positive for Covid-19 are told they’ll recover within two to three weeks depending on the severity of infection. Now, new reports from the National Institute for Health Research suggests that there could be thousands of US residents living with “ongoing Covid,” or what feels like a never ending battle with the coronavirus due to consistent symptoms. 

“The fluctuating and multi system symptoms need to be acknowledged. A common theme is that symptoms arise in one physiological system then abate only for symptoms to arise in a different system.”

Embed from Getty Images

The report found recurring symptoms were impacting individuals breathing, brain function, heart/cardiovascular symptoms, livers, and skin. There are four different syndromes that researchers are using to categorize these Long Covid patients; permanent organ damage to the lungs and heart, post-intensive-care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and general continuous Covid-19 symptoms. 

Some of the individuals who have experienced symptoms or any of the syndromes listed above have likely stayed in the hospital for longer than initially anticipated, while others may have never even been tested or diagnosed. That’s the difficulty with a virus that presents itself like the common cold and now seasonal allergies as well. Some individuals won’t even think twice about a runny nose and scratchy throat that lingers for weeks on end because it’s normal for this time of year. 

The report suggests that researchers are working on a way to diagnose “ongoing Covid” as a means of helping these patients access the proper support and resources they need to feel better faster. Dr. Elaine Maxwell is one of the report’s main authors who discussed how those who had been severely sick with Covid-19 would likely be impacted the most with ongoing Covid while individuals at a lower risk of death (younger individuals with no preexisting conditions) were less likely to continue to feel symptomatic. 

Embed from Getty Images

“For some, this is related to their rehabilitation following a hospital admission – but others are reporting life-changing experiences that follow an initial infection that they managed at home, with symptoms becoming more severe over time.”

However, there are also instances appearing with individuals being hospitalized for ongoing Covid symptoms who have previously not tested positive for the virus, while individuals who had to be ventilated for several weeks are fully recovered and not experiencing any lingering symptoms. If anything, this is just another stark reminder that this virus is completely unpredictable, and we all should be taking it as seriously as possible. 

The other major concern that’s intensified with this research is the way that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting certain parts of the population depending on socioeconomic status. Black and Asian communities alone have seen much higher death rates due to the coronavirus, and there are major concerns for all socially disadvantaged groups that don’t normally have access to proper medical facilities to be tested and treated. These individuals are also suffering for months on end with no recognition simply due to the fact that they can’t afford a standard hospital visit. 

In America alone, there have been close to 8 million confirmed positive cases of Covid-19, with about 217,000 deaths. Those statistics alone should be staggering enough to make you wear your mask, and stay home as much as you possibly can in the coming months until a proper drug treatment or vaccine is established.