Scott Krackover began to get chills and sweat in his house on Long Island in mid-April. He thought it was cold until he could try anything.
As soon as the coronavirus test returned to positive results, Krackover, a medical expert in child and adolescent psychiatry, prepared for two weeks of suffering. But now, after almost three months, he still gets these chills. He also has coughing, shortness of breath, and trouble eating and swallowing.
Krakover, 40, is part of a growing group of patients with COVID-19 who suffer from its symptoms for weeks and even months after standard recovery times.
“Most people become infected with the virus, and after a few weeks the symptoms disappear,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an ambulance doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “We see a different spectrum where people do not recover, and they have symptoms from weeks to months.”
Their symptoms are not serious enough to be hospitalized, but not mild enough to resume normal life, which forces this group of people to endure the disease in limbo, as they isolate them from friends, family and the outside world for several months.
“I kept thinking that the worst of it had gone, and then it got worse,” said Krackover, head of the psychiatry department at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York. “That’s what is crazy.”
Throughout his illness, he visited the emergency room and emergency centers several times. He was never sick enough to stay in the hospital, but his symptoms would not improve.
By the third week, Krakow could neither breathe, nor eat, nor speak, as his throat was swollen. He spent days coughing over a sink, sometimes spitting out blood, and nights wrapped in a blanket with “the strongest chills of my life” that he would never forget. Quarantined in his bedroom, he could barely get through FaceTime sessions with his wife Heather and his two young children.
“I was scared,” he said. “I was worried that I would lose them – that they would lose me.”
His future was uncertain until he was introduced to Glatter, who prescribed a steroid that showed promise in improving survival outcomes in patients with COVID-19.
It was found that dexamethasone, a common steroid used to treat inflammation, reduces mortality by one third in a study of more than 6,000 seriously ill patients. According to a team of researchers in England.
As soon as Krackover started taking steroids – on top of the inhaler, nebulizer, prednisone and over-the-counter drugs that he was already taking – he noticed that his severe cough began to subside.
While steroids may have worked for Krakower, Glatter insists that the same shake with the medicine may not work for everyone, since each patient reacts differently to the coronavirus and therefore requires different drugs to recover.
Krackover tested COVID-19 twice for five and a half weeks during illness. Finally, by the sixth and seventh week he twice gave a negative result. But his symptoms were still constant.
Glatter said viral fragments or dead virus, which are no longer infectious and are not detected in the test in real time, can still cause symptoms in the body.
“We learn that these truckers are a population that often gives negative results. Some of these patients have never had a positive result, ”he said.
Since the beginning of March, Glatter has been diagnosed with patients who are still going to the hospital to treat their symptoms, most of which are constant fatigue and muscle pain.
Because these symptoms are not considered serious, Glatter says some doctors believe that they can be caused by anxiety or psychological and emotional stress.
“Medical gas lighting exists, and it exists, and we really need to pay attention now that COVID-19 created these truckers,” he said. “People who go through this for several months become really worried, frustrated and depressed, and they don’t know how long they can continue to fight.”
Krackover is too familiar with this feeling. He finally reunited with his family, although sometimes wearing a mask and gloves, but he is far from who he was before COVID-19. A one-hour telephone interview with the US TODAY left him weak and breathless.
“The disease is emotionally and physically draining,” he said. “When you’ve been sick for so long, it’s so hard for you.”
This article originally appeared in the USA TODAY: Coronavirus: in some patients, COVID-19 symptoms may last for months