By Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff, Dr. Lucinda Bateman
“Recovering” from COVID-19 does not guarantee a return to a person’s usual state of health. For one thing, some people with multi-system injury—particularly to the brain, heart and kidneys—may develop permanent dysfunction of those organs.
In addition, a more subtle form of chronic illness may develop. For some people with COVID-19, even those who are only mildly affected at first, the ensuing weeks and months of “recovery” bring a surprise and a betrayal: they do not return to full health. Although nucleic acid tests no longer detect the virus, people still suffer from ongoing symptoms. They call themselves “long haulers,” and the condition is being called “long COVID.”