The Department of Veterans Affairs (also known as the VA) has released a new guidebook for what it refers to as its “whole health system approach” to Long COVID. This guidebook is meant to help the growing number of veterans who struggle with the effects of this disease, also known as “long haulers,” including helping physicians to diagnose victims and determine appropriate treatment. The VA hopes that the practices and standards laid out in the guidebook will help other physicians around the country who are figuring out how to help people struggling with the aftereffects of COVID-19.
What is Long COVID?
“Long COVID” is the term given to a collection of symptoms that some people suffer after an initial infection with the 2019 novel coronavirus, more commonly known as COVID-19. While the original infection typically only lasts a few weeks, some people experience aftereffects that last for months afterwards, with some cases lasting more than a year. Currently, there is no agreed upon consensus about what causes this condition, although people who were hospitalized from the disease are more likely to suffer from it.
What Does Long COVID Look Like?
In many respects, the symptoms of so-called “long haulers” are very similar to people experiencing an acute COVID infection: fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, loss of smell or taste, coughing, diarrhea, stomach pain, and a fast-beating or pounding heart. However, it can also lead to neurological symptoms, including headaches, sleep problems, dizziness, depression, anxiety, and a difficulty with thinking or concentrating (sometimes known as a “brain fog”). Some people have also reported rashes, joint or muscle pain, and changes to their menstrual cycles.
Who Can Get Long COVID?
The people who are most likely to suffer from Long COVID are those who were hospitalized for the infection, but in theory, anyone who had the infection may develop symptoms. There is even some evidence to suggest that asymptomatic people (those who were infected but displayed no apparent symptoms) can also potentially develop Long COVID later on. Only an evaluation from a medical professional can determine if your symptoms may be related to a COVID infection.
How Will This Help Veterans With Long COVID?
The new guidebook describes how to appropriately diagnose and treat veterans with Long COVID, using a comprehensive program to identify symptoms and prescribe an individual treatment plan. Because of how varied the symptoms are, and how much the understanding of the disease is evolving, it is important that doctors be responsive to patient needs. In this way, veteran “long haulers” can have a better chance of recovery.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.