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'Feel Like I've Aged 20 Years': COVID Long Haulers Continue To Experience Symptoms Months Later

DENVER (CBS4) – As 2020 comes to an end, some of the first Americans to contract COVID-19 are still experiencing side effects of the coronavirus. Those who experience many of the common symptoms, as well as brain fog, are now being studied as "COVID-19 Long Haulers," people who continue to experience issues with the virus even after they should have recovered.

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(credit: CBS)

Emily Ringering, who contracted COVID-19 in March, said many of her symptoms are still lingering nine months later.

"I feel like I have aged 20 years," Ringering told CBS4's Dillon Thomas "I had a couple months there where I felt good. Then stuff started coming back. In late August, stuff started coming back where I was having memory issues, bad fatigue, joint pain, I was getting winded."

Ringering was recently admitted to an urgent care due to shortness of breath, cough, chest pain and more. Though she has continuously tested negative for the virus since her initial diagnosis, the impacts continue to persist.

Researchers at UCDavis Health published research stating upwards of 10% of those who contract COVID-19 could possibly become a long hauler. One of the most common issues with long haulers is said to be brain fog, where the patient has memory and overall cognitive struggles.

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(credit: Emily Ringering)

Ringering said she recently took a test for her cognitive abilities, which she failed. She said her father, who is over 70, regularly passes the test with ease.

"I can't remember what I walked in a room for. Or, I will be in the middle of a sentence and I will just lose the words," Ringering said.

UCDavis Health said there currently is no known cause for the long haulers' symptoms. Some believe it could be due to a small amount of active virus still in a system, while others said it could be caused immune systems overreacting. Also, there is no known timeline as to how long the issues may last for the long haulers. Studies are underway.

Ringering hoped sharing her story with CBS4 would encourage others with similar issues to seek out help. She also hoped it would encourage those who have not contracted the virus to take it seriously.

"There are still people that are like, 'I am hanging out with everybody.' And, I am like, 'You don't want to get this,'" Ringering said.

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(credit: Emily Ringering)

"It's not the walk in the park some may think?" Thomas asked.

"Yeah, not at all. Not at all," Ringering said.

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