Arizona doctor says recovery from COVID-19 can last weeks, months after infection for some
PHOENIX — Despite no longer testing positive for COVID-19, some people have lingering symptoms that can last weeks or even months after they were first infected.
This is most commonly known as long COVID. It affects people who have symptoms that persist, relapse or recur for more than 30 days after they were infected.
Dr. Harvey Hsu, an internal medicine specialist for Banner Health, said about 30% of people who’ve had COVID-19 will experience this.
“The most common symptom that we see is fatigue,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM.
“A lot of patients feel tired after they’ve been infected, and that can last several months afterwards.”
Shortness of breath or cough, brain fog and chest pain are also common symptoms of long COVID.
Hsu said the amount of time symptoms last is “quite variable.”
“The majority of people within six months will feel much better,” he said. “They may just be a little bit tired, but most shortness of breath and cough do go away for most people.”
He added some with severe infections of COVID-19 may still need to be on oxygen a year later.
Since last April, Banner Health has been following COVID-19 patients who were discharged from its hospitals and tracking how they’re doing.
It also has a long COVID treatment program, which Hsu helps run.
“Our goal is to try to help both a combination of inpatients that were discharged as well as patients who were never admitted to the hospital with the persistent symptoms,” he said.
The program offers various specialists who work with patients to provide treatments that can help alleviate and treat specific symptoms of long COVID.
For example, the program offers physical therapy to patients still suffering from fatigue, joint pain or muscle pain.
“We have therapists that are specially trained to deal with these long COVID patients and help them with pacing and getting them back to become more functional and decrease the severity of symptoms,” Hsu said.
More information about Banner Health’s long COVID treatment program can be found online or by calling (844) 549-1854.