New research shows long COVID is affecting young people who had mild COVID-19 cases

Covid Long Hauler.png
Posted at 7:14 AM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 07:49:51-04

New research shows that young people who had mild cases of COVID-19 are getting long COVID.

“We have hard evidence to show that long COVID exists,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, Associate Professor for the USF College of Public Health.

New research is giving doctors insight into long COVID that they’ve never had before.

“Everyone is at risk for chronic long haul syndrome,” said Dr. Lisa Merritt, Executive Director of the Multicultural Health Institute.

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Long COVID is when your COVID-19 symptoms don’t go away and/or develop into other health problems.

Some of those symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • a lingering cough
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • chest pain
  • joint pain
  • heart palpitations
  • brain fog

“Now when we look and say the brain is really showing differences in people reporting these symptoms. The cerebral spinal fluid is different in people who are reporting these symptoms,” said Roberts.

Researchers say what the new studies show about long COVID and who it's affecting is shocking.

“Everybody thought no it’ll be the severe cases, it’ll be the hospitalized cases, it’ll be people who are elderly who already had mental decline,” said Roberts.

However, that’s not what the data indicates.

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“No one expected to see the long-term COVID actually occur in people who were younger,” said Roberts.

The new science also reports higher rates of long COVID in young people who had mild cases of COVID-19.

“I’m very concerned about the potential for that and how it’s going to be detrimental to young people,” said Merritt.

“I want people to know it’s real. These are young people. People in their 20s who are reporting brain fog. They’re showing cognitive decline that you see in people who are 70. So it’s not something to mess around with. You don’t just get COVID and get over it. That’s an incredibly dangerous course to attempt,” said Roberts.

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Studies so far estimate that as much as 10% to 30% of people who get COVID-19 may later develop long COVID. Health officials say having this data confirm the existence of long COVID is a big deal.

“Number one, that helps us with a true diagnosis. Number two, it gives us something to look at over the time of recovery to say okay so the brain looks this way at day 40, how does it look at day 80 is it actually recovering? Is there a therapy that’s working here? And so it gives us some hope,” said Roberts.

“For people who are suffering it gives them that feeling of okay they’re listening. This is real. Scientists are looking at this, they’re working on this,” she added.

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Health officials say the message here is a reminder that COVID-19 is a new virus, one that we should continue to try to keep from spreading since the lasting impacts are still unclear.

"Even with asymptomatic or mild infections, it’s a great risk. So if we can prevent something I’m all about it," said Merritt.

Scientists are working to figure out what’s happening.

“I want to encourage that we continue to look. There’s a continue to doing these studies. We have to get people who are experiencing long term COVID, speak to their physician and enroll in any kind of clinical trials that are going on so we collect the data and try to figure this out,” said Roberts.