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Long Haul Covid Affecting Workforce

Long Haul COVID Affecting Workforce

Feb. 18, 2022
One-quarter to one-third of COVID-19 patients become long haulers, with chronic fatigue being the predominant symptom.

As the rate of COVID-19 cases decrease, more attention is being focused on what’s called long-haul COVID.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a study showed that about 10% of people who had COVID-19 will experience prolonged symptoms one, two,  or even three months after they were affected.  Long-lasting symptoms often include coughing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, headaches, muscle aches and diarrhea.

The most significant symptom that the Cleveland Clinic says it is seeing is fatigue." Often times this group feels very run down and tired. They can’t exert themselves or exercise and simple tasks (like walking to the mailbox) will often leave them feeling exhausted. Chronic fatigue like we’re seeing in this group can be incredibly debilitating and frustrating. Many long-haulers also report brain fog, difficultly concentrating or feel like they aren’t as sharp as they used to be."

And how many people are we looking at? 

Other studies are showing higher numbers than the Cleveland Clinic, with doctors have been estimating one-quarter to one-third of COVID-19 patients become long haulers, as many patients call themselves. Now, four studies published since February confirm that range. They show that 27% to nearly 33% of patients who had COVID-19 but did not need to be hospitalized later developed some form of long-haul COVID.

To put that percentage into numbers, if you use the 30% figure from the JAMA 2021 report, and then base the number of cases in the U.S. on CDC sources, that number comes to 44 million. 

How many people are missing work due to long-haul COVID? Well, a recent study from the Brookings Institute revealed that 1.6 million people are missing from the full-time workforce.

How Are We Treating Long-Haul Covid?

According to the CDC there are a variety of methods.  From a medical management perspective, the agency offers this advice.

Many post-COVID conditions can be improved through already established symptom management approaches (e.g., breathing exercises to improve symptoms of dyspnea). Creating a comprehensive rehabilitation plan) may be helpful for some patients and might include physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, vocational therapy, as well as neurologic rehabilitation for cognitive symptoms.

 From a holistic perspective, they made these observations.

Evidence indicates that holistic support for the patient throughout their illness course can be beneficial. Recognizing and validating the impact of illness on quality of life should be part of the ongoing healthcare professional and patient interaction. Healthcare professionals can provide information on peer support resources (e.g., patient support groups, online forums). Support groups are connecting individuals, providing support, and sharing resources for persons affected by COVID-19 (see Resources). When material, employment, or other social support needs are identified, healthcare professionals should consider referral themselves (if they are knowledgeable and able) and engaging a social worker, caseworker, community health worker, or similarly trained professional to assist.

One group that is offering integrative care, which falls under the holistic support portion, is Goodpath. "Long COVID affects over 40 million people and has no simple cure,” says Goodpath CEO Bill Gianoukos. “Integrative care is proven to be effective for chronic conditions with diverse symptoms, like long COVID. It's why integrative care is the only long COVID treatment approach recommended by the CDC. We at Goodpath are excited to offer digital integrative care to resolve long COVID cases in the US." The company has created a resource guide talking about the various symptoms of long-haul COVID and suggesting as to which integrative methods could be useful in treating the symptoms. 

Further supporting that view is an article, “Addressing the Long COVID Crisis: Integrative Health and Long COVID” in the Journal of Global Advanced in Health and Medicine. “We suggest here that these patients require an integrative health approach, one that combines traditional medical management, non-pharmacological approaches, and behavior and lifestyle changes.

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