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Local COVID-19 patients experiencing long-lasting effects

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Posted at 8:08 PM, Jun 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 13:01:37-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After beating COVID-19 in March, Tim Martin and his wife Mikala thought the last of the virus was behind them.

“Let’s face it, the human condition is fragile,” said Tim Martin.

Three months after the couple first got sick, they said the effects of the illness have been unrelenting.

“I’m getting somewhat of a cough that comes on and off, but I really had a cough that stayed with me for probably about a month and a half after I got sick,” said Mikala Martin.

For Tim, he said he hears lingering noises internally.

“I have what’s described as audio hallucinations,” he said. “My cell phone alarm will go off in the morning and I will turn it off, but I will continue to hear it for another 60 to 90 seconds, that increasing volume much like an echo.”

While more research needs to be done, these so-called long haulers are people who have essentially recovered from the virus, but are having lingering effects weeks and even months after being infected.

Dr. Steven Pearman, VP of primary care with Sentara Healthcare, said the long-lasting effects of COVID are not surprising in some people who initially suffered mild symptoms.

“The immune system seems to go into overdrive,” he said. “A lot of the things that make you have symptoms when you’re first getting ill is your immune system activating to fight off the infection. The problem is it doesn’t go away. It seems like it stays active and continues to cause similar symptoms as if you had an infection.”

Pearman said symptoms could wax and wane and might include fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness.

According to Pearman, however, a majority of COVID patients won’t have long-term, sometimes debilitating effects, and people typically recover after two weeks.

“It’s going to be important for people with COVID to take care of themselves,” said Pearman. “Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, eat well and just do everything they can to have their immune systems let them get over the infection and build back up for strength.”

The Martins said they just got their sense of smell and taste back a couple weeks ago and are thankful they aren’t feeling worse.

Meanwhile, as more data and research about COVID-19 comes out , the Martins said they will continue to monitor their health and take precautions.

“We wear a mask every time we go out,” Mikala Martin said. Her husband agreed.

”It’s funny because as far as we know we’re supposed to be immune, but it’s a community effort,” Tim Martin said. “Flattening the curve is a community thing. It only takes two people not wearing a mask.”