Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, more than 1.2 million people have already recovered from the disease. But while the COVID-19 recovery rate is high, there are instances when recovered patients continue to experience symptoms of the disease weeks after coming out negative.  

 Kate Porter, a COVID-19 patient, was diagnosed with the disease two months ago. Since her recovery, she has stayed in her home in Beverly, Massachusetts with her 12-year-old daughter.

Despite lack of pre-existing health conditions that would mean a more complicated recovery from COVID-19, Porter’s symptoms continue to show to this day. Her fever, plus the feeling of being extremely unwell, has hit her every day for more than 50 days since she was diagnosed that it seems to her that her disease is already permanent.   

Porter said the longevity of her symptoms is something she has never experienced before. “I think I’m in the clear, but I’m not sure,” she said. “It feels never-ending. I am at a loss. I know it sounds crazy, but is this permanent?” she added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a patient is considered recovered if three days have passed since a fever broke without the assistance of medication and respiratory symptoms. In the case of Porter, however, the symptoms have never left her since her first diagnosis and despite testing negative for coronavirus. “I’ll feel great one afternoon and think, ‘I’m going to read, I’m going to do laundry,’” she said. But then, the COVID-19 symptoms show up again. “It’s like a mind game,” she added.

Dr. Lara Hall, clinical lead for the Cambridge Health Alliance Respiratory Clinic in Boston, said they regularly advise COVID-19 patients who are recovering at home to be vigilant, as the coronavirus can linger in the human body for weeks before potentially worsening.

“We do frequent telephone calls, checking in and telling patients what to watch out for,” said Dr. Hall. “The thing we really worry about is shortness of breath,” she added. She also stressed the importance of intense outpatient management for those who have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. “Those are people in a high-risk category that we’re calling every day,” she said.

As of now, there is no specific drug that can treat COVID-19 so other patients who don’t feel sick enough to be hospitalized opt to stay at home to rest, drink fluids and ingest fever-reducing meds. However, infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag said COVID-19 should never be taken lightly, as what seems to be a mild disease could eventually turn into a “horror” that can make an infected person feel severe fatigue, muscle pains, difficulty in breathing and thinking.

COVID-19 Coronavirus is spreading worldwide and countries are doing their best to flatten the curve. Photo by: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay