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Colorado Doctors Studying COVID-19 Survivors With Post-Illness Symptoms

DENVER (CBS4) - Some people who survived COVID-19 still aren't feeling like their old selves. Doctors are seeing more people coming to them with post-COVID-19 symptoms months after they recovered from the initial illness.

Elizabeth Aleteanu and her family were some of the first people in the United States to be hit by COVID-19. In March, they were among 3,500 Grand Princess cruise ship passengers asked to isolate in their cabins when 20 passengers tested positive for the virus.

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(credit: Aleteanu family)

Her husband and kids got sick right away, but it wasn't until they got home to Colorado when she started feeling sick.

"The following morning I had a cup of coffee and it tasted funny," said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth got really sick. She had chest pressure, fatigue, loss of taste and smell and gastrointestinal problems.

"I thought like 'Iis this how I go out? I've had such a life full of adventure and laying on the couch. This is how I die?'"

The most severe symptoms have subsided for her but still six months later she feels like her battle with the disease isn't over yet. "I just feel like the fatigue is always there," Elizabeth says.

Dr. Sarah Jolley, a pulmonologist with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, says Elizabeth isn't alone.

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(credit: CBS)

"We have certainly had patients who have had prolonged symptoms after COVID."

Jolly is running a post COVID-19 clinic. They are studying the aftereffects of COVID-19 patients that were both hospitalized and treated as out patients. She's seen lots of post COVID-19 patients experiencing cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.

She says some people have more serious symptoms like post viral reactive airways disease, post COVID-19 pulmonary fibrosis, persistent myocarditis and heart inflammation. She says patients still feeling ill should see their doctor.

"It is important that if people are having ongoing symptoms that they probably get looked at to make sure that none of these other things are going on," said Jolly.

Right now there isn't much doctors know about the disease or when people experiencing post-illness symptoms, like Elizabeth, will start feeling well again.

"For most patients who have had COVID it's just going to take a matter of time," Jolly said.

Elizabeth says she is starting to lose hope that she will ever be her old energetic self again.

"I wonder if it will ever go away."

LINK: UCHealth Pulmonology Clinic

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