What is Long COVID?

Senior woman holds hand to chest, indicating shortness of breath

Until 2020, the word “pandemic” wasn’t one we heard very often. Fast forward to 2021, and our vocabulary of public health-related buzzwords continues to grow. One term you may have heard in recent months is “long COVID,” also called long-term COVID, post-acute COVID or long-haul COVID-19. The condition has become so widespread that, in January, the World Health Organization revised its COVID-19 treatment guidelines to include the condition.

What exactly is a COVID long-hauler? In this informative episode, respiratory disease specialist Erica Gregonis, MD, joins host Kendra Barnes to discuss what physicians are learning about the long-term effects of having coronavirus. Dr. Gregonis, chief medical officer for Baptist Health Richmond and a physician with Baptist Health Medical Group Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, also discusses treatment for long-term COVID. Tune in to learn more from Dr. Gregonis about long-term COVID symptoms, complications and treatment. 

Note: Baptist Health has developed a program for patients who have had COVID-19 and are still experiencing symptoms or do not feel they have fully recovered. If you are experiencing any issues after having COVID-19, such as persistent shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, or ongoing symptoms, you can get care now from Baptist Health’s long COVID program via a virtual visit with a provider. To get started, visit BaptistHealth.com or sign-in to MyChart via your computer or mobile app. 


Episode Summary:

After a year of countless buzz words, in this episode we focus in on those associated with the recognized health problem for follow-up care with continual COVID symptoms—long COVID, longterm COVID, and long-haulers. Dr. Erica Gregonis joins the conversation with specialization in pulmonary care. This is a timely topic with an uncertain future in the course of the pandemic that you won’t want to miss!

The conversation starts off as Dr. Gregonis provides a 30,000ft view of what “long COVID” is. Describing a consolation of symptoms that last long than 4 weeks, Dr. Gregonis states that many are still suffering lingering symptoms after the virus has run its course. They discuss various symptoms and the neurological impact this virus has presented. How do you identify is you have long COVID and what about those who were asymptomatic? Dr. Gregonis addresses these questions and many more.

Looking at the scope of long COVID, Dr. Gregonis shares about those who might be at  a heightened risk of these on-going symptoms. With multiple studies showing different percentages in affected groups, there are not yet hard lines of understanding how this virus will affect people. Learn about the underlying biology that causes these symptoms to linger, along with details on autoimmune reactions, immune system overreactions, and virus reactivations. Dr. Gregonis shares where we currently stand with treatments for these symptoms and how getting the COVID-19 vaccine might help. 

In closing, Dr. Gregonis provides listeners with her last thoughts on paying attention to your body and keeping in touch with your physician.

Key Takeaways: 

  • [0:47] Introduction to episode topic on long COVID
  • [1:36] Dr. Erica Gregonis introduced 
  • [2:09] A timely topic with an uncertain future
  • [2:39] Overview of what long COVID is and its various symptoms
  • [6:03] How to identify if you have long COVID
  • [6:57] How are asymptotic COVID-positive people affected?
  • [9:25] Commercial break
  • [10:04] Looking at the scope of long COVID and who is at a heightened risk
  • [11:43] Underlying biology causing symptoms to linger
  • [13:15] Where do we stand currently with treatments?
  • [15:28] Last thoughts

Episode Links:

Baptist Health’s Long COVID Care
Learn more about Dr. Gregonis

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Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Get Evaluated for Long COVID
Find a Provider Near You
What Are COVID-19 Long-Haulers?
What Are the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19?

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