Many COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ wonder if they will ever get back to normal following disease

ATLANTA — It is something that is starting to become more and more common with people recovering from COVID-19 – long lasting side effects from the disease.

Doctors are seeing patients with high fevers and other lingering ailments months after being diagnosed with he virus.

Jeannine Johnson says her 9-year-old daughter Kira is no longer infected with COVID-19, but nothing is back to normal.

“So, she’s on day 190-something of low grade fever,” Johnson said. “She still has a low-grade fever of 99.4, 99.9, in that range.”

The Forsyth County fourth grader started showing symptoms in in March. Her mom said Kira was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April.

It worsened her mitochondrial disorder that affects her energy level.

“She has no control over her body. She can’t do any of the things she normally would do,” Johnson said.

She’s always had plenty energy to be an avid student and girl scout.


Six months later, she fights a fever every day and extreme fatigue.

“She said, ‘You know, I’m nearly hibernating. I can’t stay awake.’ And it’s really frustrating to her,” Johnson said. “The sickness is hard. But the other things that go along with it are harder.”

These are the symptoms linked with people considered “long haulers.” Months after getting rid of the virus - they’re wondering if they’ll ever go back their normal selves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 35% of symptomatic adults reported lingering symptoms two to three weeks after a negative test.

“I think we just need more time and more research to find out exactly what the causes are and how long this will last,” Johnson said.

Dr. Heval Kelli is with the Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Institute. He said there isn’t a lot of data on long haulers among adults, let alone children.

Many with long term effects had underlying conditions already. Researchers have found that some did not.

“I always tell people try your best not to get the disease because you don’t want to be dealing with a complication that we don’t know yet,” Kelli said.

Teresa Singerr-Cronnon thought she was done with the virus in April -- but she was wrong.

“They discharged me and I was doing well, but after a week, I relapsed,” Singerr-Cronnon said.

The Gordon County mother said she’s still battling fatigue and the emotional toll lingers too.

“Reach out, find someone that will encourage you, or hopefully you already have a good support system,” is Singerr-Cronnon’s advice.

In fact, doctors are increasingly worried about the mental health consequences from the pandemic.

“This pandemic is new to our society. So we need to also not forget about dealing with our mental health issue,” Kelli said.

For Kira, her mother said she’s making progress and is hopeful she can go back to school next year.

“She’s had some regression physically, emotionally, mentally. She’s having some serious short-term memory issues,” Johnson said.

She’s also hoping that long-term symptoms don’t become any more widespread.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through what we’re going through,” Johnson said.

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