BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Post COVID Treatment Program at UAB Medicine started in November, and since then, doctors have treated 500 people who are no longer infected with COVID-19, but can’t shake the symptoms.
“What we found is this virus spreads out throughout the whole body and can cause many symptoms,” said Dr. Turner Overton.
Overton is the Medical Director of the Post COVID Treatment Program, helping connect patients with specialists to treat their specific symptoms.
“When we look at the people we are seeing most, probably the most common complaints are pulmonary in nature, cardiac in nature and then neurological in nature. People complaining of brain fog or chronic headaches so those are probably our top three referrals.”
He added, “We do have a not insubstantial number of people who have psychiatric issues, experiencing a type of post traumatic stress disorder, as well as some people who have difficulty with their coordination and speaking after COVID, so our ENT doctors are involved, as well as psychology as well as some other sub specialists.”
Nationwide, the most commonly reported long-term symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) are researching how many COVID patients are long haulers, but early studies estimate 10% of people infected with the virus will have lingering symptoms.
Ongoing studies aim to answer why some people have lasting symptoms and how long these symptoms will last.
“We don’t fully understand the mechanism whereby these viruses or infections can cause this, so it’s a big challenge,” said Overton.
He added, “The good news is the majority of people will continue to improve over time. They may need pulmonary rehab, or physical rehab from deconditioning from the disease, but most of them are getting better, but there is still a small group of people who have lingering symptoms 6, 7, 8 months after their infection, so that’s really frustrating.”
To learn more about UAB’s Post COVID Treatment Program, call 205-975-1881.