In the first episode of “Science and Medicine,” we heard from one of the nation’s leading experts on Long COVID. Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez is the chair of rehabilitation medicine at UT Health San Antonio and she runs two long COVID clinics.
She said that for some, Long COVID feels a lot like a condition that has been linked with continuing illness after recovery from other viruses — Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
“M.E. or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or what was previously known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — so debilitating fatigue,” she said.
Overwhelming fatigue caused by performing simple tasks, like sweeping the kitchen or walking to the store.
“And so that’s where they maybe do an activity that they could do before. But it causes even maybe one or two days later a significant crash where they’re in bed,” she said. “They can’t get out of bed.”
People who experience this presentation of Long COVID can have cognitive issues — known as brain fog — which can cause them to struggle to keep up mentally in the way they used to.
It makes work difficult. It makes life difficult.
“Sometimes I have to make people have work accommodations, and some people can’t work. I have to take them out of work because working is only making them worse,” she said. “Or I have to have their families help them with their activities.”
Gutierrez teaches her patients to practice what she calls pacing and other techniques to conserve energy when they’re experiencing ME fatigue.
Science & Medicine is a collaboration between TPR and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, about how scientific discovery in San Antonio advances the way medicine is practiced everywhere.
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