LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Medical experts said struggling to find words, short term memory loss, and multitasking are the symptoms 'COVID Long Haulers' find most challenging.
Mayo Clinic Health System COVID-19 Activity Rehabilitation Program Director Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn has studied COVID long haulers for more than one year.
At a Thursday news conference, Dr. Vanichkachorn said 10-30% of Mayo's COVID patients deal with long term symptoms well after their initial infection.
He said the struggle is especially hard when patients try to return to work and life.
He shared that some patients are dealing with health effects more than one year after they were infected.
Dr. Vanichkachorn said the best way to avoid long haul symptoms is to not contract the virus in the first place. He said most often those vaccinated will not develop long haul symptoms even if they experience a breakthrough case.
"But it's rare so that's a good sign," Dr. Vanichkachorn said. "In addition, the individuals that we have been treating and interacting with they do seem to get better faster than the rest of our population."
For those suffering long term symptoms, he said they're not continually testing positive or spreading the virus.
The Delta Variant made the long term symptoms worse and made the pandemic last longer than Dr. Vanichkachorn initially predicted.
He also said those who have been put in the ICU may sometimes need oxygen tanks to breathe well after their time in the hospital--if they survive.
Dr. Vanichkachorn compared fighting long haul symptoms to training for a marathon while fighting the flu.