The search for lengthy COVID-19 responses focuses on root causes.The search for lengthy COVID-19 responses focuses on root causes.

Scientists are making strides in comprehending the root causes of long-term COVID-19 and developing reliable testing methods for it. This progress holds immense significance as it could signify a significant breakthrough in unraveling a complex ailment that has incapacitated countless Americans, puzzled researchers, and left patient advocates feeling neglected in their battles

• In the broader context, the most challenging aspect of long-term COVID-19 lies in the assortment of various biological mechanisms thought to be behind a spectrum of persistent symptoms, including cognitive impairments, fatigue, and respiratory issues, among others.

• In the end, physicians will require diverse methods for both diagnosing and treating patients.

Reading between the lines: Some well-established theories propose the causes of the condition, such as the notion that the coronavirus may endure in the body by concealing itself in viral reservoirs.

•  Alternative scenarios include COVID-19 triggering immune system dysfunction in certain individuals, reactivating latent herpes viruses present in most people, or inducing inflammation in the blood vessel linings, as suggested by experts

Scientists investigating these hypotheses are examining antiviral medications such as Paxlovid and Valtrex, along with naltrexone, a medication for substance use disorder known to mitigate inflammation.

Current status: Diagnostic tests for long-term COVID-19 are still unavailable, but according to George Diaz, Chief of Medicine at Providence Regional Medical Center, who treated the first confirmed U.S. case of COVID, they are probably not far from development.

• Certain researchers are exploring potential biomarkers in long-term COVID patients that may enhance treatment precision, such as reduced serotonin levels, iron levels, and elevated levels of specific proteins in the blood.

• Alexandra Yonts, director of the long COVID program at Children’s National Hospital, noted that doctors there are utilizing specific laboratory tests, such as those measuring cortisol levels or detecting particular antibodies, to aid in diagnoses.

• Yonts remarked, “We’ve acquired an immense amount of knowledge when considering the sheer volume of information we’ve gathered.”

• “We have strategies for management … the things you need to do on a day-to-day basis to function, even if that means not being able to do everything that you want to do,” Yonts said. “And we have labs that can help us right now at least go in a certain direction towards treatment.”

• The National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER Initiative, created to study long-term COVID, announced this past week the start of mid-stage trials testing three treatments in patients who’ve experienced symptoms such as fast heart rate, dizziness, and fatigue.

• Other RECOVER trials have tested therapies for viral persistence and brain fog.

The bottom line: With such a complex condition, researchers warn, it could still be a long road to finding definitive answers, and there likely won’t ever be a silver bullet.

•           But they said important advancements are already being made that could eventually help not only long-term COVID patients but also those with similar post-viral conditions


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