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Lakeland doctor treats patients with long-term side effects of COVID-19

1 in 10 people have severe lingering symptoms
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Posted at 5:12 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 17:12:26-05

LAKELAND, Fla.  — Even after surviving COVID-19, it’s a long and bumpy road to recovery for many patients.

Nearly 36,000 people in Polk County have been infected by the coronavirus and survived, but surviving doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

“This is not like influenza where you catch it, (and) two weeks later you’re pretty much back to normal ready to go back to work. This can be a very long-term illness,” explained Dr. Kathleen Haggerty.

Dr. Kathleen Haggerty is an Internal Medicine specialist at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland. She said 1 in 10 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are going to experience severe lingering symptoms.

“Chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, tremors, hair falling out. That’s a very common symptom. At about four months, the shock to the system causes the hair to fall out,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty tells ABC Action News, fatigue is the most common side effect. She has established a post-COVID clinic to address the lasting impacts coronavirus has on the body.

“We have some supplements that we’ve been treating with. People have been getting better. We’ve also been treating the particular ailments that they come in with. Lung disease and headaches with various things, and we have been seeing improvements, and that’s been very encouraging,” said Haggerty.

The post-COVID clinic welcomes patients who might have been told previously that they were imagining their symptoms. Haggerty has treated 25 people so far.

She hopes to return patients to the optimum level of health they enjoyed before contracting COVID-19.

“Give yourself time to heal. Recognize that this is an illness that’s not over right away,” she said.