OPINION | Conditions after COVID

My quarantine ended about 3 weeks ago now. 

I remember coming back to campus, seeing friends again and feeling like I was a person again. I felt like I had survived something. I felt like my chronically ill body wasn’t as exhausted as it always seemed to be. 

But in the three or so weeks since coming back to the world, I’ve been experiencing very real post COVID infection symptoms. The blood sugar crashes I believed to be happening were in reaction to barely being able to eat without ending up with severe stomach pain and acid reflux.

Neither have stopped, despite the circle of medications my doctor has thrown at me in response to this. The severity of my symptoms are leading me to need an upper endoscopy and possibly gallbladder removal surgery. While I was chronically ill before COVID, my GI tract had been one of the few parts of my body doing well.

The fact of the matter is that I am not an anomaly. While we believed COVID to be a strictly respiratory infection at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been proven to attack the entire body. 

Medical News Today reported on preliminary studies showing significant numbers of patients with post infection gastrointestinal issues. “Some preliminary studies show certain symptoms may persist for weeks to months after recovering from the disease. A recent review found approximately 16% of people may still experience nausea and vomiting after recovering, while 12% may continue to experience digestive disorders.” (Medical News Today article). 

While 12% and 16% may not seem significant, it is a large number considered it is showing up in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. This was also discussed by the Baylor College of Medicine, “…Not all patients with COVID and GI symptoms have symptoms at initial presentation… Some patients will develop symptoms several days into or even after the initial infection has cleared.” (Baylor College of Medicine article). This is the case with me, I didn’t start having GI symptoms until halfway through quarantine and it only got severe after I was cleared.
This isn’t to say that gastrointestinal symptoms are the only complications people are experiencing after having COVID. Along with extended symptoms of COVID itself (Ashlynn Melnyk’s article on being a COVID long hauler), the Mayo Clinic has found that patients are showing organ damage months after recovery.

Patients’ hearts are showing long term damage to the muscle which can lead to complications down the line. Scar tissue in the lungs from having COVID can lead to long-term breathing issues. Patients post COVID are also showing damage to the brain that is indicating higher risk for many issues including stroke, seizures, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s. (Mayo Clinic article)

The Mayo Clinic has also said, “…Even those who had mild versions of the disease continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.” My specific case of COVID ended up being mild but my symptoms post COVID are severe. 

Asymptomatic, previously healthy people are showing serious complications. 

All of this is to say that getting COVID is no joke and protecting ourselves and those around us isn’t something to be taken lightly. While what’s listed in this article about difficulties post COVID is serious enough, there is still so much more that we don’t know. I urge you to look at this information as well as other research showing the detriment of COVID. Do everything you can to keep you and those around you healthy and safe.