June 22, 2021

UW Health explains latest CDC guidelines to treat COVID-19 'long haulers'

Illustration of COVID-19 virus

Madison, Wis. ‒ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently offered new diagnostic, treatment and management considerations for patients with long-lasting symptoms following a COVID-19 infection.

The guidance uses the term “post-COVID conditions,” often called “long haulers,” to refer to a wide range of physical and mental health symptoms experienced by some patients four or more weeks after SARS-CoV2 infection, including those who had mild or asymptomatic acute infection.

The CDC recommendations reinforce that patients with lingering symptoms should first reach out to their primary care provider, and while there is much to learn about post-COVID symptoms, it is not a completely new phenomenon according to Dr. Matt Anderson, senior medical director of primary care, UW Health.

“There is precedent for viral syndromes to have lingering impacts in some patients that are harder to treat or understand,” he said. “This is not unique to COVID-19, although the frequency with which it is occurring does seem to be increased.”

Primary care providers are in a unique position that makes them able to work with patients to help manage any symptoms and coordinate care with other providers as needed. Anderson said.

“The bottom line here is that the best treatment for this condition is preventing it from occurring in the first place and vaccination is the best way to do that,” he said.