If you think you might have long COVID, you’re not alone. Weeks and months after a COVID infection, more than one out of 10 people continue to experience symptoms — or develop brand-new ones. These patients find support and relief at Hartford HealthCare’s COVID Recovery Center. You can too.
Who Can Be Affected by Long COVID?
Since opening in fall 2020, Hartford HealthCare’s COVID Recovery Center has cared for about 2,000 patients. These individuals call the center because they’re struggling with any number of symptoms, ranging from inconvenient to debilitating.
“I had a nurse who was so affected by fatigue, PTSD and myalgia after COVID, she stopped working,” says Subramani Seetharama, MD, the center’s clinical lead. “I saw a professional soccer player who developed palpitations and dizziness, and he would almost pass out from the moment he got on the soccer field. A young individual who worked in a hospital developed blood clots, and suddenly had trouble walking.”
The center sees a particularly high number of patients between the ages of 45 and 50, full-time workers and many front-line health workers. There have been more women than men. Many patients have underlying risk factors like asthma, diabetes or obesity.
“We’re seeing long COVID symptoms in people of all ages and backgrounds, including healthy individuals without any medical risk factors,” says Dr. Seetharama. “Most individuals were never hospitalized. Even a mild COVID infection can cause long COVID.”
When to Call Hartford HealthCare’s COVID Recovery Center
Call the COVID Recovery Center if you’re experiencing persistent symptoms four weeks or more after testing positive for COVID.
Symptoms can include:
- Lungs and heart:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pains.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Neurological (brain):
- A hard time with concentration and memory.
- Brain fog.
- Sleep issues.
- Blurred vision.
- Tinnitus, or a constant ringing in your ear.
- Loss of smell and taste.
- Stomach pain.
- Other symptoms:
- Generalized muscle aches.
- Joint pain.
“Even if you’re not sure whether your symptoms are related to COVID, give us a call,” says Dr. Seetharama. “We can help you find out what’s going on, and point you toward the care you need.”
How the Center Can Help COVID Long-Haulers
Current research suggests that up to 85% of people who experience lingering COVID symptoms get better in 12 months. That might be good news long-term, but during those long months, it’s crucial that they get the right support.
“We see patients who are worried they’ll never be able to do the things they used to do. Their symptoms are affecting their work, their income, their daily physical and psychological wellbeing and relationships,” says Dr. Seetharama.
With one phone call, the COVID Recovery Center connects COVID long-haulers with specialists who understand their unique symptoms, ranging from heart and lung experts to neurologists, rheumatologists, and behavioral health professionals.
These experts can guide patients to the right diagnostic testing to find answers. Just as importantly, they connect them with clinical support to treat their symptoms – like pulmonary care for shortness of breath, speech therapy to address brain fog, and physical therapy to rebuild strength and balance.
After working with the Center’s speech therapists, one college student was able to overcome debilitating brain fog and return to school. Countless patients have found relief from anxiety, sleep dysfunction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others have been treated for heart and lung conditions that could have caused permanent damage.
“Dealing with lingering COVID symptoms can be an isolating, scary experience. We provide individuals with the education and support they need to get through this,” says Dr. Seetharama. “We’re glad we can provide some relief for these patients.”