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Kelly LaDue believed that COVID-19 ended in the fall of 2020. After suffering from the virus for a disastrous few weeks.
La Due, 54, Ontario, NY, said, “Then I started with a really terrible heart race for any effort. I had to climb the stairs, sit and rest, and I wasn’t enough. Take a breath. I had to rest after everything I did. “
A year later, La Due still feels like a shipwreck. She suffers from severe headaches and wakes up with general pain in more days than otherwise. She also experiences sudden high-pitched whistling, strange illusory odors, and foot vibrations. Her brain is almost always very foggy, so she has to quit her job as a nurse and is afraid to drive.
“These symptoms go in and out,” she says. “You think:’It’s gone.’ You think:” This is it. I’m getting better. “And it will go back again. “
Patients like LaDue have researchers scrambling to find out why some people experience persistent and often debilitating symptoms after catching SARS-CoV-2. .. It remains unclear how often it occurs. But if only a few of the hundreds of millions of people infected with COVID-19 suffer from long-term health problems, it is a major public health problem.
“I think it’s a post-pandemic pandemic,” he says. Angela Chang, A person studying COVID-19 for a long time at the University of Toronto. “If we consider that only 10% of patients who are conservative and develop COVID-19 are infected with long COVID, that is a huge number.”
“Not one cause”
So far, there are more theories than a clear answer as to what is happening, and there is good reason to think that different constellations of symptoms may have different causes in different people. there is. Perhaps the virus is still hiding somewhere in the body, directly damaging nerves and other parts of the body. Perhaps the chronic presence of the virus, or the remains of the virus, boil the immune system in a low boil and continue to cause symptoms. Maybe the virus is gone, but now it’s attacking the body because it has removed the immune system from the bang. Or there may be another cause.
“It’s still in its infancy, but I don’t think long COVID is one cause. I think there are multiple illnesses,” he said. Akiko IwasakiHe is a professor of immunobiology at Yale University and is also studying the long COVID-19.
However, Iwasaki et al. Began to find some intriguing clues in the blood of some patients. They include abnormal levels of cytokines, which are chemical messengers used by the immune system to communicate, and proteins produced by the immune system. Autoantibodies, Attacks cells and tissues in the body instead of viruses.
“We have discovered elevated cytokines in long-term COVID patients and are trying to decipher the meaning of those cytokines. We have also identified some clear autoantibody reactivity and what those antibodies do. I’m trying to find out if they’re doing and if they’re causing harm, “Iwasaki says.
Other researchers have made similar discoveries.Doctor Stephen Dikes A long patient with COVID-19 at the University of California, San Francisco Elevated levels of a cytokine called interleukin-6, Suggesting that they may be suffering from a condition of chronic inflammation.
“The first few weeks of infection are accompanied by a lot of inflammation. The virus only blows up the immune system,” says Dikes. “Therefore, it is reasonable for some people to think that acute COVID causes an inflammatory condition, which can cause long-term COVID.”
Yet another clue found in one subgroup of patients Abnormal activity patterns by major immune system cells such as T cells, May support the idea that the virus is hidden in the body.
“This is a feature or pattern that may be consistent with low-level but persistent infections in patients with long-term COVID syndrome,” said Dr. Igor Coralnick At Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
More research is needed, but researchers hope that these findings will ultimately lead to ways to help patients with long-term COVID. One of the possible treatments for some patients may turn out to be an antiviral drug that targets the virus hidden in the body.Another possibility Remove the virus with a vaccine. This seems to help some long COVID patients. Researchers believe that drugs that weaken the immune system may also help.
“We need to understand what’s happening to each patient, because treatment options vary greatly depending on the actual treatment,” says Iwasaki.
More questions than answers
However, some are not convinced that any of the evidence produced so far that links subtle changes in lab tests to the physical problems of long-term COVID-19 patients is very convincing. This includes signs that the immune system is at stake, known as an autoimmune disorder.
“The most memorable thing in a year and a half after seeing these patients and doing extensive examinations is that they have few or no abnormalities,” he said. Dr. Michael SnellerThe National Institutes of Health has conducted a series of detailed tests on hundreds of long COVID-19 patients.
“Echocardiography, respiratory function testing, x-rays, brain MRI. You name it. Laboratory markers for organ dysfunction. We haven’t seen any of it,” Sneller said in his study. Say about. “And looking only at the types of standard markers of inflammation, valuable little evidence of immune activation. I basically lack the tests to do.”
However, Sneller says his team has not ruled out anything and continues to analyze data about the immune system. His team is also doing psychological tests on the subject of their research, not because he suspects their symptoms.
“It’s 100% genuine. These people have these symptoms. Of course. The problem is what’s causing them,” he says. “Anxiety can cause real symptoms.”
On her side, LaDue wants researchers to finally understand what’s happening to her and other patients.
“I want to feel normal, and hopefully someday it will return to normal again,” she says. “The most difficult thing is arguably that it looks normal, but it doesn’t feel normal.”
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