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Ask An Expert: Long-term Effects of COVID-19

Hawaii Pacific Health starts new program for patients with long-term symptoms

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COVID-19 has been in the islands for less than a year, and everyday we’re learning more about the acute sickness and its long term effects. On today’s Ask an Expert, HI Now host Kanoe Gibson spoke with Dr. Bennet Loui from Hawaii Pacific Health (HPH) to learn more.

“Most young and healthy people will recover from COVID-19 in about two weeks or so. Only about 1 in 20 end up n the hospital,” Dr. Loui explains. “However, we’re learning that quite a few of them can have long-term symptoms lasting more than a month.”

Some of the long-term effects of COVID-19 include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headaches, loss of smell and joint pain. Dr. Loui says that the sense of smell usually comes back within the first week or two. He says many COVID-19 patients also have cognitive difficulties called brain fog, along with anxiety and depression. Serious problems like heart failure, chronic lung problems, memory and even emotional problems can also occur.

“Overtime, we’re learning that long-term problems can happen in every part of the body, Dr. Loui explains. “Most patients will remain home in isolation, however, it’s crucial for them to be monitored very closely for the first 10 to 14 days.”

Primary care doctors at HPH can enlist a COVID-19 virtual monitoring program that maintains daily contact with active COVID-19 patients either by phone or through an app. HPH has also started a new program for patients with long-term symptoms.

Dr. Loui says patients can be seen by their primary care doctor through virtual visits or in some cases at a special evaluation center set up just for COVID related problems.

“Over 10 percent of patients with COVID-19 have long-term effects and with a surge going on, we’re going to have quite a few with long-term complications from COVID,” he adds.