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Long-term effects of COVID keep UW clinic busy

A local long-hauler clinic continues to see demand from patients recovering from mild to moderate cases of COVID.

When UW Medicine’s post-COVID clinic opened last spring, there were a handful of patients. Today the clinic is seeing more than 50 new referrals a week.  

Dr. Janna Friedly with the clinic says even though people are recovering from moderate and mild cases, the long-term symptoms are debilitating. 

“A very significant fatigue, headaches, impaired ability to think clearly – or what people describe as brain fog. We’re seeing a lot of heart rate and blood pressure instability, poor exercise tolerance,” Friedly explains. “And then all of these debilitating symptoms are compounded by insomnia, depression and anxiety.”

Friedly says the goal is for patients to avoid lifelong disabilities. She says the fact that between 10 percent and 30 percent of people with COVID infections are experiencing symptoms, it's staggering to think how many people have these problems. 

She says symptoms are improving once patients get vaccinated, but that ongoing research is needed to know if this is a real trend. 

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.