5 minute read
Think you have Long COVID?
Here’s What We Know About It.
Published March 21, 2023
It’s been three years since the world was introduced to COVID-19. By now, you’ve probably heard, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, about a condition called Long COVID, referring to a collection of ongoing health concerns that affect some people for weeks, months, or even years after contracting COVID-19. CDC studies suggest that more than 50% of adults in the US reported having COVID-19 in the past, and nearly 1 in 5, or 19%, are still having symptoms.(1)
The symptoms range from mild to severe and include extreme fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, and anxiety, to name a few. To better understand these symptoms, the first important step is testing to rule out underlying conditions that present similar symptoms.
Now, there’s a convenient way to check your health status with Quest’s first Long COVID tests. They can help you gain understanding about lingering health issues and are available for purchase online without a doctor’s visit. Importantly, these tests will give you a deeper look into your health, helping to prepare you for meaningful discussions with your healthcare provider.
According to Yuri Fesko, MD, Executive Medical Director for Medical Affairs, Quest Diagnostics, these two post-COVID-19 panels that test for Long-haul COVID will empower consumers with the data they need to potentially find a correctable condition that may be the cause of the long COVID-19 symptoms. Further, they will help ignite conversations among researchers and healthcare providers to understand COVID-19 side effects better.
What is Long COVID?
Long COVID has also been referred to as Long-haul COVID, Chronic COVID—and most recently, Post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). The CDC defines long Covid as any health problems still occurring four weeks after the initial coronavirus infection.
Studies have shown that Post COVID conditions affect some people more than others. People may be more at risk if they:
- Experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care
- Had underlying health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, or diabetes before a COVID-19 infection
- Never received a COVID-19 vaccine
- Experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19 illness
Further, some evidence suggests that developing Long COVID could be tied to the following conditions surrounding COVID-19 infection:
- Uncontrolled immune system
- Tiny blood clots
- Chronic inflammation
- Organ damage
- Lingering virus
- Reactivation of a previous virus
- Aggravation of underlying health conditions
Post-COVID-19 Basic Test Panel
Includes C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Thyroid Function Test, Vitamin B12 Test, Vitamin D Test, and Urinalysis.
Post COVID-19 Expanded Test Panel
Includes Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP), Complete Blood Count (CBC), C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Ferritin, Hepatic Function Panel, Thyroid Function Test, Vitamin B12 Test, Vitamin D Test, and Urinalysis.
What are the symptoms of Long COVID?
Long COVID does not affect everyone in the same way. These symptoms usually lessen over time, or even disappear and then reappear. Paying attention to these symptoms is very important, as persistent symptoms could indicate a new medical condition. Additionally, long COVID can also present with symptoms making it more challenging to identify and manage; and it’s also possible to experience a combination of symptoms, including:
- Fatigue that interferes with daily activities
- Worsening symptoms after physical or mental exertion
- Difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
- Sleep disturbance
- Depression or anxiety
- Pins-and-needles feelings
- Changes in taste or smell
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulty or shortness of breath
- Racing or pounding heart rate
- Digestive disturbances
- Muscle or joint pain
- Menstrual changes
Discussing Long COVID symptoms can be challenging. Check out these helpful tips for talking to your doctor from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Why testing is important
The best way to assess what’s happening inside your body is through a trusted laboratory test that offers the essential knowledge and actionable insights. Quest has developed two tests to help determine if your symptoms may result from a COVID-19 infection or another underlying health problem. These tests provide information for anyone with ongoing symptoms caused or aggravated by COVID-19 so they can discuss it with their doctor.
Check your health status with these tests from Quest. They’ve available for purchase online anytime without a doctor’s visit.
Post COVID-19 Basic Panel -Tests for: C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Thyroid Function Test, Vitamin B12 Test, Vitamin D Test, and Urinalysis.
Post COVID-19 Expanded Panel - Tests for: Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP), Complete Blood Count (CBC), C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Ferritin, Hepatic Function Panel, Thyroid Function Test, Vitamin B12 Test, Vitamin D Test, and Urinalysis.
What treatments are available for Long COVID?
Treatment focuses on reducing and managing the various symptoms to help people maintain the best quality of life. Depending on the symptoms, a person may opt to visit a specialist. Ideally, specialists would then work together with general practitioners or other healthcare professionals, to provide a more holistic approach to identifying possible causes and treatments.4 Common treatments for Long COVID:
Nervous system therapy - Focuses on training the nervous system to help the body naturally control heart palpitations, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
Pulmonary rehab - For shortness of breath, pulmonary fibrosis, scarring, or lung tissue damage. A therapist provides breathing techniques to help improve exercise capacity.
Cognitive therapy - Memory training, speech therapy, and other cognitive exercises help improve memory, attention, concentration, and “brain fog.”
Smell retraining - Jump-starting the senses with controlled exposure to familiar smells like essential oils, lemons, or coffee. This therapy is often combined with a steroid sinus rinse.
While researchers work to get a handle on this complex condition; Quest is here to help. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of Long COVID, we make it easy to check your health status with one of our post-COVID tests. They’re available for purchase online, anytime, without a doctor’s visit.
No doctor visit is required to buy your own lab test at questhealth.com. PWNHealth and its affiliates review your purchase to ensure its medically appropriate before submitting the test order for processing. PWNHealth also reviews your test results and will contact you directly if they require prompt attention. Included in each purchase is the option to discuss your test results with an independent physician; however, you are also encouraged to speak with your primary health care provider.
- Nearly One in Five American Adults Who Have Had COVID-19 Still Have “Long COVID”. Last reviewed June 22, 2022. Accessed February 22, 2023 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220622.htm
- Levine, Hallie. Do I Have Long COVID? Here’s How to Tell. WebMD. Last Reviewed July 19, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/covid/news/20220719/do-i-have-long-covid
- Sreenivas, Shishira. What is Long COVID (PASC)? WebMD. Last Reviewed January 02, 2023. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/covid/what-is-long-covid-pasc
- Levine, Hallie. No Long COVID Drugs Yet, But Other Treatments Available. WebMD. Last Reviewed July 19, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/covid/news/20220727/no-long-covid-drugs-yet-other-treatments
- Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Reviewed December 16, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html
- Post-COVID Conditions: CDC Science. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Reviewed September 2, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/post-covid-science.html
- Nearly One in Five American Adults Who Have Had COVID-19 Still Have “Long COVID.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Reviewed June 22, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220622.htm#:~:text=NCHS%20Home-,Nearly%20One%20in%20Five%20American%20Adults%20Who%20Have%20Had,19%20Still%20Have%20%E2%80%9CLong%20COVID%E2%80%9D&text=New%20data%20from%20the%20Household,symptoms%20of%20%E2%80%9Clong%20COVID.%E2%80%9D
- Patient Tips: Healthcare Provider Appointments for Post-COVID Conditions. Last Reviewed December 16, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/post-covid-appointment/index.html
- Post-COVID Conditions: Information for Healthcare Providers. Last Reviewed July 11, 2022. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/post-covid-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fhcp%2Fclinical-care%2Fpost-covid-index.html
- RECOVER: Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery. National Institutes of Health. Last Reviewed February 27, 2023. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://recovercovid.org/
- Post-COVID Treatment Options. Riverside University Health System. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.ruhealth.org/post-covid-treatment-options
- Collins, Francis. NIH Launches New Initiative to Study “Long COVID.” Last Reviewed February 23, 2021. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nih-director/statements/nih-launches-new-initiative-study-long-covid
- Post-COVID Conditions: CDC Science. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed September 2, 2022. Accessed February 22, 2023 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/post-covid-science.html
- Long COVID or Post-COVID conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed December 16, 2022. Accessed February 22, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html
- Levine, Hallie. No Long COVID Drugs Yet, But Other Treatments Available. July 27, 2022. Accessed February 24, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/covid/news/20220727/no-long-covid-drugs-yet-other-treatments