Predicting long COVID: Who’s at risk?

Predicting long COVID.
Predicting long COVID.(Ivanhoe Newswire)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 8:22 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - You survived your COVID infection, but just when you believe your symptoms are subsiding, they never quite go away. The condition is called long COVID and patients that have it experience lingering symptoms even after the initial COVID infection has cleared. Now new research is providing some clues into who may be most at risk of getting long COVID.

From music lessons to shooting hoops, busy mother of two Jane Storie always has to stay on top of her game. But three months after she cleared a COVID infection, lingering symptoms threw her off her game.

“I was having a hard time breathing. I felt like my lungs were burning. I told my husband I think I have COVID again,” Storie said.

Storie was actually experiencing long COVID, a condition where she had prolonged symptoms from her COVID infection.

“We’re seeing long COVID symptoms in about 10 to 30 percent of patients who had COVID infections,” said Sapna Kripalani, MD, FACP, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Initially, it was believed that people with severe COVID infections were the ones most likely to get long COVID, but those with mild infections are also getting it. Now researchers from Seattle have found having the presence of certain autoantibodies, which are antibodies that mistakenly attack the body in autoimmune diseases, can put you at risk. They found the autoantibodies present in 60 percent of patients with long COVID. Other risk factors include having type 2 diabetes, and a reactivated Epstein-Barr virus, a type of herpes virus. Your gender may also play a role.

“We think there is a slight predominance for women over men,” detailed Dr. Kripalani.

Knowing these risk factors can narrow down treatment for those suffering from long COVID, like Storie, who is currently getting therapy at a COVID clinic at Vanderbilt University.

A Hong Kong study found that the bacteria in your gut might also play a factor in whether someone will develop long COVID. They found COVID-19 patients with healthy gut bacteria were less likely to develop long COVID.

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