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ME/CFS SOUTH AUSTRALIA INC

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Jonathan Hawkins: COVID-19 And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Sunday 22 November 2020

 

From US news outlet The Union:

 

The Union
 

Jonathan Hawkins: COVID-19 and chronic fatigue syndrome

By Jonathan Hawkins
November 14, 2020
©2005 - 2020 Swift Communications, Inc.

Everyone knows who is at risk from COVID-19 — the elderly and unhealthy. However, that isn’t the whole story. Experts now understand that around 35% of those who catch COVID-19 remain ill for longer than the expected two- to three-week recovery time line.

This prolonged illness is not limited to those whose symptoms were severe. The affected are often younger, healthier people who were only ever mildly symptomatic. Yet they fail to make a timely recovery and deal with profound exhaustion, neurological issues and other disabling symptoms for weeks and even months after tests no longer detect the virus in the body.

The name for this phenomenon is “long COVID.”

Some of its symptoms, like shortness of breath, can be traced to organ damage caused by the virus. Others, like a cognitive slowdown called “brain fog,” currently defy scientific explanation. Fortunately, most people with long COVID appear to recover on their own in time. But not all are so lucky — months of disability and an uncertain future is the harsh reality for some.

They are not alone. Science has known for decades that many people develop a highly similar clinical picture to long COVID after viral illness. For instance, 27% of those infected during an earlier coronavirus pandemic — the 2003 SARS outbreak — were left with a years-long illness. As are 10% of those infected by Epstein-Barr virus (the cause of mononucleosis), Ross River virus and Coxiella burnetii.

The name for this post-viral illness is myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and I am unlucky enough to have suffered with it for over half my life. In 2008, when I was a healthy 13-year-old, I came down with mononucleosis and never recovered. This marked the end of a future in which I grew up to attend college, start working or become an independent adult. Instead, my ME/CFS has confined me to my house and bed for the last 14 years. Now 27, I’m so ill that I can’t feed, bathe or take care of myself.

 

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