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Doctors discovering chronic illness linked to COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19
Posted at 5:43 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 09:30:05-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A chronic and life-changing condition is now being linked to COVID-19.

You may have heard the term "COVID long haulers." They’re people who have been dealing with COVID-19 symptoms for months after infection.

Doctors believe the long-term symptoms are related to POTS, which stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It’s a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling things like our heart rate and blood pressure.

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It’s estimated as many as 3 million people in the US have POTS not connected to COVID-19, but it’s a new diagnosis for some post-COVID patients.

“One has to have POTS-like symptoms at least more than 6 months before we can diagnose POTS and that's another reason we are only beginning to recognize POTS now, because the pandemic started earlier this year and although we feel like its been going on forever we are only recognizing now,” said Dr. Tae Chung, the director of the Johns Hopkins POTS Clinic.

Doctor Chung just opened a clinic dedicated to post-COVID patients with POTS-like symptoms about a month ago. Those symptoms include lightheadedness, prolonged and extreme fatigue, and brain fog.

POTS is a hard condition to recognize and doctors are being cautious in diagnosing it.

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“The symptoms, to a medical provider, they may seem kind of non-specific. Oh you've had an infection. you're going to be tired. But no, when people have lightheadedness that is severe and seems to be disabling and limiting activity we need to be thinking about the possibility of an autonomic disorder,” said Dr. Brent Goodman, who runs to autonomic lab at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Doctors say there is no known cure for POTS, but treatment can include exercise, changing up how much salt is in your diet, and medication.