COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ deal with symptoms for months

Coronavirus
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – How long does it take to recover from COVID-19?

It’s a question researchers and doctors are still trying to answer.

“It felt like there was a 700-pound elephant just sitting and squishing my whole body. It was insane,” said Moore resident, Vickie Kielty.

Kielty described her first day of living with COVID-19.

“The amount of coughing that you’re doing, it hurts,” she said.

But that was close to 40 days ago.

Fast forward to Friday, and she’s still dealing with symptoms.

She’s coughing, fatigued, and still has no taste or smell.

“I taste salt. If I eat something that’s salty, I can taste salt but that’s about the only flavor that I get,” said Kielty.

Kielty is just one of many.

Patients across the country are self-nicknamed as COVID-19 ‘long haulers.’

“There is a subset of people who for reasons we don’t understand seem to have persistent symptoms, even after they’ve recovered from the acute virus,” said Dr. Eliza Chakravarty, with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

Dr. Chakravarty says there aren’t a whole lot of answers as to why this happens.

“And the unfortunate thing is we can’t predict who is going to have the more long-lasting symptoms and who is going to recover,” she said.

It doesn’t always mean the person is still infected.

“It’s a function of the lingering effects of the immune system on tissues in the body rather than effects of the virus still in the body,” said Dr. Chakravarty.

Kielty says she’s hoping symptoms go away soon, but also feels lucky to be alive.

“If this is all I have left, and even I live the rest of my life with no smell or no taste, I’m alive and I’m healthy otherwise,” she said.

Researchers they don’t have a good gauge on just how many people this happens to in Oklahoma.

An article by the Journal of American Medical Association says about 10% of COVID-19 patients develop long lasting symptoms.

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