EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts are learning more about Covid-19 long-haulers. Long-haulers are patients who experience lingering symptoms from the virus after acute infection. Some experience headaches, dizziness or even issues with their hearts. Medical experts say some COVID-19 patients are even developing new cases of diabetes.
“We’ve been focused for so long simply on acute Covid,” said Dr. Edward Michelson, the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. “And dealing with the numbers of patients, and taking care of them, finding the best therapeutics for dealing with acute COVID infection. Now that the numbers are largely coming down, we’re starting to see a number of patients who are long-haulers.”
A study published in the journal, “Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism” found that more than 14% of patients hospitalized with severe cases of Covid-19 developed new cases of diabetes.
Michelson said the link could be due to the immune response triggered by Covid-19. He said the immune response could continue in certain patients, even after they have recovered from acute infection.
“My best guess is that people who may have been even pre-diabetic, because of the immune response changes, this might be just enough to tip them into frank actual diabetes,” Dr. Michelson said.
The CDC estimates more than one in three Americans is pre-diabetic. Data from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation shows more than 15% of individuals in El Paso County already have diabetes.
Michelson said research is expanding in the region on the possible link and on Covid long-hauler symptoms in general.