28-year-old woman Rachel Gunn first contracted coronavirus back in October last year. But now, three months later, after discovering she has a severe long-term health issue, she's taken to social media to urge people not to ignore concerning post-COVID symptoms.
Posting a photograph of herself in a hospital gown, the young woman wrote: 'Here's me in hospital January 5th 2021 with MULTIPLE pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in both of my lungs.'
Rachel, who's from Dublin, went on to share the back story, explaining that she was 'fairly sick' with COVID-19 back in October, being in bed for nearly a fortnight, and suffering many of the common symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue, headaches and aches and pains. While she initially began to recover and returned to work, Rachel said she hasn't felt '100% since.'
Just like many others who have suffered from Long COVID, Rachel has experienced fatigue in the months following coronavirus, as well as lung pain when she exercised. However, she dismissed these as 'normal post-COVID symptoms' as she was able to go about her life 'semi normally and do minimal exercise.' From what Rachel had read, she planned just to 'get on with it'and wait for the symptoms to ease in their own time.
But then things escalated. 'Flash forward to December, my last week of work before Christmas and suddenly I went downhill,' the 28-year-old, who was previously a healthy, active, non-smoker, wrote on Instagram. 'For nearly 2 weeks I was so breathless I couldn't even get up the stairs without feeling like I ran 5k, even getting up and going to the bathroom was exhausting.'
Rachel was hit with migranes, heart palpitations, back pain and extreme fatigue, and ended up needing to sleep for 15-16 hours a day. As her symptoms continued, her mum encouraged her to go to A&E, where she was quickly given a CT scan. The results were extremely concerning.
'A CT scan showed both my lungs were COVERED in pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) and my heart had been strained,' wrote Rachel. 'I was admitted for 3 days and started on blood thinners. I now have to stay on blood thinners for at least a year, maybe more.' Doctors have told the young woman she is now susceptible to blood clots for the rest of her life.
Urging followers to share her post, Rachel said she wanted to encourage anyone who experiences worsening COVID symptoms months after the initial virus to take it seriously. 'Extreme breathlessness is not something to be ignored. I am extremely lucky to have found out about my clots when I did,' she said.
How many people experience 'Long Covid?'
Estimates from the UK COVID Tracker app suggest that around 12% of coronavirus patients suffer symptoms for longer than 30 days, while one in 200 report the effects of the virus lasting for more than 90 days.
'So far it seems older people get worse ‘acute’ symptoms of COVID whereas a lot of people we are seeing with Long COVID are younger. We don’t yet know why,' Professor James Chalmers, the British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research at the University of Dundee, says.
Symptoms of Long COVID (also known as post COVID fatigue, or post COVID syndrome) can range from person to person. Not everyone will end up with pulmonary embolisms, far from it - but it's very important to pay attention to your health and seek medical help if you think your symptoms are continuing.
'Do let your GP know that you are having health problems post COVID, especially if symptoms are getting worse or new symptoms develop,' advises Dr Charles Shepherd, Medical Adviser at the ME Association. 'Although a face-to-face consultation with your GP may be difficult to arrange, most GPs are happy to speak to their patients on the phone. Some GPs are now offering video consultations - which can be helpful if a more thorough assessment is required.'
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cut through the noise and get practical, expert advice, home workouts, easy nutrition and more direct to your inbox. Sign up to the WOMEN'S HEALTH NEWSLETTER.
You Might Also Like