Wednesday, September 28, 2022

What are chronically ill COVID patients? A new federal study finds clues

What are chronically ill COVID patients? A new federal study finds clues

Nancy Rose, right, who contracted COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to exhibit long-haul symptoms including brain fog and fatigue, cooks for her mother, Amy Russell, at her home, Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Jefferson in Port, NY researchers are trying to understand what causes these prolonged COVID symptoms.

John Minchillo / Associated Press


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John Minchillo / Associated Press

What are chronically ill COVID patients? A new federal study finds clues

Nancy Rose, right, who contracted COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to exhibit long-haul symptoms including brain fog and fatigue, cooks for her mother, Amy Russell, at her home, Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Jefferson in Port, NY researchers are trying to understand what causes these prolonged COVID symptoms.

John Minchillo / Associated Press

Immediately after COVID-19 the epidemic began, A team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health began putting hundreds of people under microscopes to find out why some patients may end up with long-lasting health problems.

Scientists knew from past outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola that some patients would be left with symptoms that could be debilitating.

Doctors combed through the volunteers’ medical records to look for anything that might predispose them to lingering health problems, which would later be called protracted COVID, symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath. Researchers put subjects through more than 130 tests for any signs that their vital organs were damaged, that the virus was still lurking in their bodies, or that their immune systems were impaired.

On Tuesday, scientists released the first results from the study, which is ongoing. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, compared 189 patients with COVID-19 to 120 patients who did not become ill.

The results are both disappointing and provocative.

“A comprehensive medical evaluation for these persistent symptoms failed in most cases,” Dr. Michael Sneller, an infectious disease specialist who led the study, told NPR.

“We weren’t able to find evidence that the virus persists or hides in the body. We also didn’t find evidence that the immune system was overactive or that there was a malfunction injuring major organs in the body,” Sneller says.

However, the researchers found that women and people with anxiety were more likely to end up with longer-term COVID. But the researchers stressed that their findings do not mean the patients’ problems are psychological.

“I obviously don’t want to send the message that this isn’t all that real. And in people’s minds. And just go home and stop worrying about it. That’s not the message,” Sneller says.

Sneller says he hopes his findings will help doctors better treat chronic COVID patients. For example, by identifying what is No Wrong, doctors can avoid unnecessary, potentially harmful treatments. They say some doctors are prescribing the inhaler to people with normal lung function which can cause side effects.

Instead, Sneller says her research could prompt more doctors to focus on interventions that may help, such as physical and cognitive behavioral therapy.

But some people worry that the findings may send the wrong message. The fear is that doctors will dismiss patients, especially when nothing shows up on standard tests.

“We know that invisible diseases are often psychotic,” says David Putrino, a professor of rehabilitation medicine who studies and treats COVID patients for a long time at Mount Sinai Medicine in New York.

Putrino said, “We know that most people with chronic disease associated with infection are misdiagnosed with anxiety at first. Routine cookie-cutter testing will show nothing in your long-term COVID patients. We need to look deeper.”

For example, Putrino says other researchers have found evidence of abnormal levels of immune system modulators in patients with chronic COVID-19. Others have found evidence of chronic inflammation, a sign of an overactive immune system.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Aluko Hope from the University of Oregon Health and Science called the results a “valuable contribution” to understanding chronic COVID-19 by providing a baseline of patients’ health early in their illness.

But he noted that the researchers didn’t pay enough attention to understanding the fatigue many long-term COVID patients experience when they try to exercise. Or otherwise try it yourself.

“As we emerge from the hell out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to emphasize the painstaking study and care of survivors of COVID-19. Without a full understanding of the pathophysiology and disease course, we need to rule out simple objective tests. should not allow the subjective experiences of our patients,” Asha says.

“When we gather evidence, our patients deserve personalized care pathways that acknowledge the many biopsychosocial factors involved in disease recovery,” he says.

Sneller agrees. He continues to study the first patients in his study as well as hundreds of others, including conducting additional tests.

“We’re continuing the analysis looking for any evidence of autoimmunity or anything else,” Sneller says. “This paper is not the end of it – it is just the beginning.”

Also, a new NIH study aims to follow nearly 20,000 COVID-19 patients, conduct a detailed analysis of their health, and compare them with those who do not have COVID.

Ultimately, many experts believe that research will show that long-term COVID-19 likely has many different causes, depending on factors such as the severity of the initial illness and the predisposing characteristics of a person.

Nation World News Desk
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