Researchers said they may have found the potential cause of long lasting COVID-19 symptoms, which has been something that has stumped the medical community during the pandemic.
Health officials said if the code is cracked as to what causes "long haulers," it could help doctors in deciding what treatment to use to help their patients.
"By far, the ones we see the most common are fatigue," said Dr. Dale Bratzler, the chief COVID officer with OU Health. "Headache, brain fog is really common. People report a decrease in the ability to concentrate, meaning they don't feel as sharp as they used to feel."
Bratzler said in the past two years, anywhere from 10% to a third of people who recover from COVID-19 have long lasting symptoms.
"For the most part, the sicker they are, the more likely they are to have the long-haul syndrome," said Bratzler.
But researchers have been working to figure out why some symptoms stick around for so long, sometimes lasting up to a year after recovery.
A recent study at the University of Arkansas found it could be linked to an antibody found after contracting the virus.
"Many of these patients had antibodies against this ace2 enzyme which could allow the immune system to be more active. In other words, it wouldn't be modulated as well," said Bratzler.
Bratzler said if the immune system overreacting is what causes long haulers, then it could help doctors decide how to treat a patient.
"Then we actually do have very good therapies to treat immune mediated diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and other disease. It may point to using some of the drugs that suppress the immune system that might reduce some of the symptoms," said Bratzler.
Bratzler said these types of studies are a step in the right direction, but more research is needed for to be able to fully understand COVID-19 and its effects.