‘Long COVID’ has a lasting impact on many who have had the virus

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For those who’ve had COVID and just can’t seem to shake the symptoms, health experts are calling that “long-COVID.”

“Really, just seeing that lingering fatigue, muscle aches, a tough time getting up, moving, stamina, things like that, long-term cough, respiratory issues as well,” Sanford Health Vice President Medical Officer Dr. Mike Wilde said.

Darcy Ellefson, a respiratory therapist with Sanford Health, sees first-hand, each day, the long-lasting impact COVID-19 can have on someone’s body.

“I’ve seen patients in their 20s and in the 80s,” Ellefson said. “And, the thing with COVID is that you never know who is going to get really sick and you never know how the lungs are going to respond to it.”

Ellefson says much of the recovery process comes down to simple breathing techniques.

“Once people understand their breathing and how they can control it, it seems like they do a lot better,” Ellefson said.

However, for some, getting back on their feet takes far longer - Ellefson says anywhere from six months to a year.

In some cases, a full recovery may never happen.

“Just like if you have a big infection on your arm, you get rid of it, but that redness, that inflammation stays behind, that firmness, that scaring, we see the exact same thing in the lungs and respiratory tract,” Wilde said.

Recovery takes a mental toll as well, especially for those who were otherwise healthy.

“I think people need to know that if they survived the COVID infection they’ve been given a great gift, and they need to get up and get moving and work towards getting better, and get on living life,” Ellefson said.

Ultimately, Ellefson says the best way to avoid a strenuous recovery is to get vaccinated.

“Those people who are unvaccinated get hit harder and they get sicker,” Ellefson said.

If you have any questions or concerns about the long-term effects of COVID-19, speak with your primary care provider about what steps would be best for you to take.

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