Long COVID Treatment
Long COVID treatment is becoming a serious topic as doctors and scientists come to appreciate just how many COVID-19 survivors are likely to experience this disorder. Both the CDC and the WHO are working establish more knowledge about it. But first, what are we talking about?
Let’s Define It
The definition of Long COVID is evolving and this evolution is occurring faster than almost any other area of medicine. Consequently, we will know dramatically more about Long COVID in 6 months.
For now, Long COVID is a broad set of symptoms that appears at least four weeks after the initial COVID-19 infection. None of these symptoms are unique to COVID-19 and are seen in other disorders.
In some of these other disorders, well defined treatments have been established. My job as a physician is to evaluate these symptoms, determine if they are part of a non-COVID disorder and launch treatment.
For example, after recovery from COVID-19, many patients complain of shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is also a symptom seen in poorly controlled asthma. If the shortness of breath these patients report is from asthma, and we make the diagnosis of asthma, then asthma medicine can be prescribed with good relief of the symptoms.
What if asthma is not diagnosed in these patients? Would asthma medicine still provide them relief? These are valid and very important questions that doctors and patients will be discovering the answers to as we move forward.
I believe there are a few main points to remember:
- At this time, it is believed that most post-Covid symptoms will resolve in a period of six months to one year.
- The medication or interventions that improve the long COVID symptoms are already well known.
- Most Long COVID patients can be managed by a primary care physician.
- As a physician, the most important task is to keep Long COVID patients hopeful while being vigilant for treatable serious underlying diseases.
- Just as with all chronic health problems, building an expert, accessible, healing relationship between the patient and physician is be the best way to move through the Long COVID recovery process.
Long COVID will present some treatment challenges.
There is much that we don’t know about this disorder. But, we know a lot about helping patients overcome the limitations of a chronic disease. We can apply that knowlege and those approaches to help patients overcome Long COVID for life!
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