CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — As more and more people test positive for COVID-19, doctors are warning even though omicron appears to cause mild sickness, there’s still a lot of risks.
Doctors say lingering COVID-19 symptoms are more common than many might think. At least 1 in every 10 people seem to be developing long COVID-19, and it can be life-changing.
More than a year after catching COVID-19, persistent symptoms have kept Brooke Keaton from going back to life as she knew it.
“I did not think that it would cause me or others to still be sick months and now a year or more later. I had no idea,” Keaton said.
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Keaton can’t work and taking care of her own kids is difficult. Doctors have told her she’s a long hauler.
She shared her story with WCNC Charlotte in December, catching the attention of Dr. John Baratta, who’s now trying to help her.
“There isn’t a clear understanding in the medical community of exactly what causes long COVID and why some people would get long COVID and others wouldn’t,” Baratta said.
He founded the UNC COVID Recovery Center, seeing patients from all over the east coast. He said it’s been a challenge; every person has a different experience with long COVID-19. But most of his patients are struggling to return to normal.
“Not everyone has had a complete resolution or a great improvement, but many have, and I think that’s something that should be encouraging to someone struggling with long COVID symptoms,” he said.
Fatigue, respiratory issues, chronic pain, difficulty with memory or attention and anxiety or depression are common complaints. Doctors tailor the recovery program for individual patients, working to treat their symptoms.
“I feel like through our work we’re really able to positively impact their recoveries and their lives,” Baratta said.
This is an impact doctors say 10-30% of COVID-19 patients could continue to feel well after the pandemic ends.
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