Chronic Fatigue: a Disabling Condition for Covid Long-Haulers

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It’s been estimated that approximately 10 percent of Covid-19 patients experience long-term symptoms, and prolonged fatigue is one of the most common symptoms for long-haulers. Other long-term symptoms may include breathlessness and respiratory problems; a loss of smell or taste; difficulty sleeping; headaches, joint and body pain; cognitive disorders and ‘brain fog’; and chills and fever.  Further, medical researchers have found that post-Covid fatigue does not appear to be related to the severity of the initial infection, and persons with mild Covid symptoms appear to be equally vulnerable to this long-term side-effect.

Persons suffering from prolonged fatigue and associated symptoms often find that their symptoms are debilitating and significantly interfere with their ability to think and concentrate, remain awake throughout the day, and complete chores and work tasks.  If symptoms persist for more than six months, the person may be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which can be a lifelong condition.   

The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) defines chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) as a serious prolonged illness that impacts many of a patient’s body systems and often prevents persons from performing their normal activities. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated multi-system disorder which causes severe fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Other symptoms include pain, difficulty thinking and dizziness.  Further, symptoms can quickly worsen when a person tries to perform the activities they did before they contracted the condition.

Post-infection chronic fatigue may occur after many types of viral infections, not only Covid-19.  And, although the serious impacts on the body from different infections (such as SARS coronavirus, Dengue fever, Ebola and West Nile virus) may vary between patients, post-infection fatigue symptoms are quite similar.  About 25 percent of individuals with CFS become housebound or even, bed-ridden, for years.

Most persons who suffer chronic fatigue never obtain a diagnosis for their condition; yet a proper diagnosis is an important first step in improving quality of life. There is no cure for CFS, but some symptoms can be treated and alleviated, such as difficulty sleeping, anxiety and/or depression.  Covid survivors who experienced post-infection CFS warn newly sick patients that they should rest for a significant period to avoid triggering a relapse of symptoms.

In some cases, a long-hauler who is experiencing lingering fatigue and/or other post-Covid symptoms can be accommodated at their work by reduced hours or a change in responsibilities; but sometimes, the person’s workplace cannot provide accommodations, or the person’s severity of symptoms simply make it impossible to complete their required work tasks.  In such a situation, and when post-covid symptoms continue for a significant period, the sufferer is entitled to claim disability benefits from their disability insurer.

A successful disability claim requires that the person has received a medical diagnosis for their condition and are under the regular care of a physician. Unfortunately, chronic fatigue cannot be objectively measured and post-Covid symptoms occur after the person has ‘recovered’ from Covid-19, which can open the door for disability insurers to deny a claim on the grounds that the claimant doesn’t have objective medical proof of chronic fatigue resulting from a Covid infection.  A person can be tested to determine whether they have antibodies associated with a previous infection but test outcomes are not entirely reliable and the antibody response may fade for persons who experienced a mild Covid infection.  

It is now well documented that chronic fatigue is a potential side-effect of a viral infection such as Covid-19, and the debilitating impact of prolonged fatigue is also undisputed.  If you suffer from chronic fatigue and are unable to work, and your disability insurer has denied your claim, talk to a knowledgeable disability claim lawyer at Dietrich Law and let us fight to get you the benefits you deserve.

 

Sources:

www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/index.html

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7848220/

www.washingtonpost.com/health/could-covid-19-cause-long-term-chronic-fatigue-and-illness-in-some-patients/2020/05/29/bcd5edb2-a02c-11ea-b5c9-570a91917d8d_story.html

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/covid-19-story-tip-case-study-suggests-young-people-susceptible-to-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-after-covid-19

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