CFS, POTS and Long COVID – recovering from the virus may be just the beginning.
For many COVID-19 patients, recovering from the virus is not the end of their battle. Around the world, doctors are seeing patients struggle with fatigue and other symptoms long after they test negative for the virus.
Worryingly, many of these patients are suffering from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
POTS affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate and blood pressure and is sometimes associated with autoimmune problems.
Symptoms include severe fatigue, dizziness, racing heartbeat, nausea and brain fog.
Patients often face a long wait for a POTS diagnosis and then face further waits to access treatments.
More than 3 million people in the US were estimated to have POTS before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now some health professionals are warning that a wave of new POTS cases could create a new public health problem.
A recent study from the University of Washington found that 43% of COVID-19 patients aged over 65 and 27% aged 18-39 showed persistent symptoms 3-9 months after testing negative for the virus, with the most common symptom being fatigue.
A study from the Mayo Clinic found that 80% of long COVID patients suffered from fatigue, with almost half reporting brain fog.
In Australia, the picture is similar – patients have difficulty in getting a POTS diagnosis and treatment, with very few doctors having experience and knowledge of the condition, and specialist services having long waiting lists for access. An increase in POTS cases due to long COVID could exacerbate this.
At PIM we have a particular interest in chronic and complex conditions including POTS. Contact us to learn more.