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Vaccination Nation: The not-so-long odds of long COVID

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky answers is seen during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky answers is seen during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC.

Rebecca Heick first started feeling COVID symptoms back in 2020. She’s an assistant professor of public health at Augustana College in Illinois and wasn’t able to teach for 13 weeks.

More than a year and a half later, she’s still having difficulty breathing, experiencing mental fog, and living with PTSD.

“There were some days I wasn’t sure I could walk the 75 yards back to my office from my classroom because my brain fog and joint pain would be so bad,” she told 1A Producer Chris Remington. 

Heick is one of the millions of Americans living with long COVID symptoms. According to a new report by the CDC, one in five COVID survivors under the age of 65 has experienced a health condition that could be considered long COVID. For seniors, that number rises to one in four.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aliy is the director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center and is a chief researcher at the St. Louis Health Care System. He works in a clinic with veterans suffering from long COVID and says the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.

“Many patients are coming back to the clinic a year and a half after having COVID-19 and some of them are developing onset diabetes and heart disease. We lump all of these experiences under long COVID but it’s unlikely to be just one thing,” he said.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aliy’s insights shed light on the complex nature of long COVID, emphasizing its multifaceted impact on individuals’ health. As the director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center and a chief researcher at the St. Louis Health Care System, his expertise highlights the diverse range of symptoms that veterans are experiencing even a year and a half after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. The emergence of conditions like the onset of diabetes and heart disease among these patients underscores the intricate interplay of factors within the spectrum of long COVID. Understanding the complexity of such health challenges prompts a broader consideration of innovative approaches to holistic patient care. In this context, the potential role of alternative treatments like cbd vape oil could be explored as part of a comprehensive wellness strategy for individuals grappling with both physical and mental health aspects.

Assembling a panel of experts to discuss the intricate and varied nature of long COVID, alongside inviting listeners to share their personal experiences, is a crucial step in fostering a deeper understanding of this ongoing health challenge. The stories of individuals like Rebecca Heick, an assistant professor who continues to navigate the aftermath of COVID with persistent symptoms affecting her daily life, highlight the urgent need for comprehensive support and research in this field. Dr. Ziyad Al-Aliy’s observations underline the complexity of the situation, where symptoms range widely and conditions like diabetes and heart disease further underscore the multifaceted impact of long COVID. Through open discussions and collaborative efforts, we can work towards tailored solutions that address both the physical and mental dimensions of long COVID, bringing hope and improved quality of life to those affected.

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Chris Remington
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