Sure Signs You May Have Post-Acute COVID Syndrome, Says Dr. Fauci

Leah Groth
·5 min read

One of the scariest aspects of COVID-19 is that some people who are infected with the virus are not fully recovering—even those whose initial infections were deemed mild to moderate. At Wednesday’s White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, extensively discussed Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC), what many refer to as long hauler syndrome, or Long COVID. In addition to announcing $1.15 billion in funding to the NIH in order to study and improve care for people with lingering symptoms, he revealed some of the main symptoms to look out for. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

You May Have Fatigue

Tired woman holding her head with her hands.
Tired woman holding her head with her hands.

One of the key signs you have PASC is extreme exhaustion or fatigue. One study published last year in Nature found that 53% of 143 people with COVID-19 discharged from a hospital in Rome reported fatigue two months after experiencing their first symptom. According to one new systemic review and data analysis, it is the most common symptom, experienced by 58 percent of long haulers per the research. “It is present even after 100 days of the first symptom of acute COVID-19,” the researchers explain. The symptoms observed in post-COVID-19 patients, resemble chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), “which includes the presence of severe incapacitating fatigue, pain, neurocognitive disability, compromised sleep, symptoms suggestive of autonomic dysfunction, and worsening of global symptoms following minor increases in physical and/or cognitive activity.”

2

You May Have Shortness of Breath

Woman having breath difficulties.
Woman having breath difficulties.

The same study published in Nature found that 43% of the group suffered from shortness of breath two months post-infection. "We know that COVID-19 attacks the lungs, causing inflammation. This may leave survivors with persistent shortness of breath," Hackensack Meridian Health reported.

3

You May Have Sleep Disorders

hispanic woman at home bedroom lying in bed late at night trying to sleep suffering insomnia sleeping disorder or scared on nightmares looking sad worried and stressed
hispanic woman at home bedroom lying in bed late at night trying to sleep suffering insomnia sleeping disorder or scared on nightmares looking sad worried and stressed

According to the systemic review, 11 percent of long haulers struggle to sleep at night. Sleep disturbances might contribute to the presentation of psychiatric disorders,” the researchers pointed out.

4

You May Have GI Symptoms

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home
Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home

Dr. Fauci reveals that there are GI symptoms associated with long hauler syndrome. According to the survey, there are lots of them—including constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. “A lot of patients with lingering symptoms report constipation or diarrhea that persists for a few days, then resolves, then returns again,” F. Perry Wilson, a Yale Medicine physician and clinical researcher and associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, previously explained to Eat This, Not That! Health.

5

You May Have Anxiety

Woman looking into distance.
Woman looking into distance.

Those suffering from the longer version of COVID also experience mental health issues. According to the surgery, 13 percent of long haulers report experiencing anxiety. Tessa Miller, author of the book What Doesn't Kill You, explains that anxiety is often linked to chronic illness. "This is such a common symptom of chronic illness that I dedicated a whole appendix (on top of the existing writing within the chapters) to it in the book. The very thing that carries you around the world (your body) has become wild, unpredictable, unrecognizable. Of course you're anxious! You feel irritable and exhausted, like your mind is constantly spinning and you can't concentrate. You can't sleep, or when you do, you have nightmares. You're isolating from your support systems. You're trying to distract yourself all the time to avoid getting at the root of what's making you feel this way. More severely, you might experience panic attacks, which speaking from experience, feel like literal death."

6

You May Have Depression

Portrait of young man felling depressed and desperate crying alone in sofa home suffering emotional pain and unhappiness
Portrait of young man felling depressed and desperate crying alone in sofa home suffering emotional pain and unhappiness

Due to a variety of factors, including the physical and mental toll that COVID-19 and long hauler syndrome can take on an individual, it isn’t surprising that along with anxiety, 12 percent of long haulers report depression.

7

You May Have Brain Fog

Woman with temperature staying home wrapped in scarf and drinking hot tea.
Woman with temperature staying home wrapped in scarf and drinking hot tea.

Dr. Fauci also pointed to one, very PASC specific symptom, brain fog. He explains it as “an inability or a difficulty in concentrating or focusing.”

8

Keep in Mind That New Symptoms May Arise

These COVID Symptoms Will Make Your Daily Life Impossible, Says Study
These COVID Symptoms Will Make Your Daily Life Impossible, Says Study

Dr. Fauci reiterates that these are “post acute sequelae.” This means “after the virus essentially has been cleared from the body” that “new symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection or they evolve over time and they may persist for months and can range from mild/annoying to actually quite incapacitating.” He also reveals that there is still a lot to be revealed. ”The magnitude of the problem is not yet fully known,” he said.

9

What to Do If You Think You Have PASC

Health visitor and a senior man during home visit
Health visitor and a senior man during home visit

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should contact your primary care physician immediately. If they aren’t familiar with the condition, find someone who is. Also, you can contact one of the many speciality clinics across the country and they can help guide you in the right direction.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal

10

Keep Yourself and Others Protected

Woman wearing two protective face masks at the same time.
Woman wearing two protective face masks at the same time.

So follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.