COVID-19 has been a pandemic that has completely changed the world. The virus has changed the way that people live their lives and has severely impacted many patient’s quality of life. At the start of the pandemic, many experts believed that the virus would cause many problems in patients, but that those symptoms would eventually clear up once a patient recovers. That has not always been the case.
The deadly virus has killed millions of people worldwide and has left lingering effects in those who have recovered from the virus. Patients who have had long-term symptoms of COVID-19 even months after recovering from the virus are known as long haulers. This class of patients is an anomaly to the medical community, as they do not fully understand why this phenomenon is occurring.
Researchers currently estimate that about 10% of patients who contract COVID-19 become COVID-19 long haulers. With over 100 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, there could be more than 10 million COVID-19 long haulers or more. The research community needs to do more research for these patients and develop treatments that can help them recover from their symptoms.
Treatment methods for COVID-19 long haulers are almost nonexistent. Patients who are still suffering from this condition are left to fend for themselves. Thankfully, stem cell therapy may be a potential treatment option for COVID-19 long haulers. These patients may be able to improve their quality of life and rid themselves of the symptoms that they have had to deal with for months. Let’s discuss background information on COVID-19 to get a better understanding of how stem cells can help.
What Are COVID-19 Long Haulers?
Most people would think that once the virus is eliminated from the body that all of the symptoms associated with the virus would disappear. After all, a majority of the population feels fine once they recover from diseases, such as the common cold. That has not necessarily been the case for some patients that have recovered from COVID-19.
The virus may be gone from a patient’s body, but symptoms are still persistent. This type of condition is not unheard of in the medical community. Some patients that have experienced mononucleosis, Lyme disease, and severe acute respiratory syndrome may also have long-term symptoms. The long term effects of COVID-19 have only gained more attention due to the ability of the virus to infect so many patients.
Generally, patients that have had severe cases of COVID-19 have had to deal with the most severe and longest lasting side effects from the virus. That is not always the case. Patients who have mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 may experience lingering effects. There are even some patients who never tested positive for COVID-19 and they are still experiencing long-term symptoms.
These patients have difficulty returning to normal life and have a lower quality of life as compared to patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19. The big worry for the medical community is that COVID-19 long haulers may become life haulers. There is a chance that patients may have to deal with COVID-19 symptoms for the rest of their lives. Let’s discuss some of the typical symptoms that these patients may be dealing with.
COVID-19 Long Hauler Symptoms
The symptoms that COVID-19 long haulers experience widely vary. Every patient has a different experience with the virus, but there are some commonalities that patients have experienced. Here are some of the most common symptoms that patients are experiencing:
- Brain Fog
- Heart Palpitations
- Loss of Taste and Smell
- Shortness of Breath
- Potentially Permanent Lung Damage
- Hair Loss
- Joint Inflammation And Pain
There are many other reported symptoms, but these are some of the most common symptoms. The level and severity of symptoms depends on a number of factors. Many patients are experiencing these symptoms for more than six months.
Who Is Most Likely To Be A Long Hauler?
Researchers are still trying to understand what group of patients are most likely to become COVID-19 long haulers. There are thousands of factors that can affect how a patient recovers, but researchers have uncovered some commonalities. Most of the factors are related to overall health and wellness.
Age is certainly one of the factors. Patients over the age of 50 are much more likely to experience long term COVID-19 symptoms. One study found that 22% of COVID-19 patients over the age of 70 developed long COVID.
Patients who are overweight are more likely to develop long COVID-19. Overweight patients tend to have more severe original symptoms, which may be why they have lingering symptoms.
If a patient has more than five symptoms within the first week of contracting the disease, then they are more likely to develop long COVID. Researchers are not entirely sure why the number of symptoms correlates to lingering symptoms.
Men vs Women
Women are more likely to develop long term symptoms as compared to men. This was only apparent in a younger group of women, however. Researchers are unsure why the disease plays out differently in men versus women.
Patients who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease, are more likely to develop long COVID. A patient with a chronic condition likely has an overactive immune system, which could contribute to the lingering symptoms.
Now that we understand some of the factors that go into the chances of a patient developing long COVID.
Why Do Patients Have Long-Term Symptoms?
Researchers are not currently sure why some patients continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms in the long term. The immune system may be overreacting and continuing to try and fight the infection, even though the virus has been effectively eliminated. Antibodies and cytokines in the body may be damaging cells and tissues throughout the body. This can cause lingering symptoms. Patients may experience continued inflammation throughout the body and there is little that a patient can do to reduce the inflammation.
Let’s go into some of the lingering symptoms and look into why COVID-19 may be creating the symptoms.
There are patients that have inflammation present in their hearts long after they recover from the virus. The immune system may unintentionally attack heart tissues and cells while the immune system is attempting to defend itself from the virus. A study done in a research lab showed that COVID-19 was able to directly infect heart muscle cells and continue to replicate and further damage other tissue and heart cells.
Patients that are experiencing brain fog may have low levels of inflammation, or a decreased blood flow to the brain, or an autoimmune condition. Patients have difficulty concentrating, which could be due to neurons in the brain misfiring or neurons that are damaged. Antibodies may be attacking cells and tissue in the brain, which can create brain fog and a lack of concentration in the patient.
About one in five COVID-19 patients have experienced a mental illness after they recover from the virus. Researchers are not sure if the virus itself is causing the mental illness or that the trauma resulting from the virus causes the mental illness. The immune system could be causing this reaction, but more research needs to be done.
Current Treatment Options
Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, the medical community is still unsure exactly how to treat patients who have lingering symptoms. There are a few treatments that medical professionals will recommend to patients that experience long COVID.
Rest And Time
Some medical professionals will recommend rest and time to improve their COVID-19 long-term symptoms. Additional rest and time can give the body the chance to fully recover from COVID-19. The overactive immune system can become less active over a longer period of time. Some patients with lingering COVID-19 symptoms have been able to improve their symptoms by taking more time to rest and eat healthy. Their quality of life slowly improved after months of dealing with symptoms.
Another first line of defense that medical professionals will recommend is light exercise. Light exercise can get blood flowing to the tissues and organs that were damaged by COVID-19. Yoga and walking can help patients get back into better shape. Patients can work with exercise therapists to develop a customized workout program that can help relieve some of their long-term symptoms.
Some medical professionals will put patients on an anti-inflammatory medication for a long period of time. Reducing the level of inflammation present in the body can improve some of the long term symptoms that patients are experiencing. There is no research that currently backs the use of anti-inflammatory medication, but the benefits most likely outweigh the risks.
Many patients are left with almost no treatments to improve their quality of life. They have to hope that their body will one day be able to return to normal. Thankfully, these patients may have another option that can improve their quality of life: stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Therapy For COVID-19 Long Haulers
Stem cells have long interested the research community to treat a number of conditions and diseases. There are a number of interesting properties that stem cells possess, which could improve the quality of life of patients with long COVID.
Stem cells release a number of regenerative growth factors that can signal the body to repair tissues and cells in certain areas of the body. These cells can also differentiate into nearly any cell in the body, which is an incredible benefit. Stem cell therapy can be used to target injuries and promote healing and repair to those injuries. Patients with damage from COVID-19 could treat their injuries with stem cells.
Stem cells also have immunoregulatory properties. They have the ability to reduce the immune system’s response and stop the body from attacking itself. This could reduce the amount of inflammation present in patients with long COVID.
Stem cells may be able to fix a variety of COVID-19 related problems. For example, stem cells may be able to repair damaged heart tissue and cells. Some research has demonstrated that stem cells can repair the heart. If a patient can receive stem cell therapy to treat that certain symptom, then stem cells may be able to treat the other long COVID symptoms.
There is some research to back up the claims that stem cell therapy can treat patients with long COVID.
Stem Cell Research
There is some promising research that showcases the ability of stem cells to treat patients that are dealing with long-term disease symptoms. A study looked at the effects of a stem cell transplant in patients with Lyme disease. This disease is also characterized by an overactive immune system that is similar to patients with COVID-19. Two patients with Lyme disease were treated with stem cells to assess the potential of a new therapy.
The patients were given stem cells via intramuscular, intravenous, and supplemental routes. The two patients all showed increases in functional skills, overall stamina, cognitive abilities, and muscle strength. The stem cells may have been able to reduce inflammation and the immune system’s response. This small study showcases just how powerful stem cells can be.
There is a lot more research that needs to be done in order to assess the effectiveness of stem cell therapy for COVID-19 patients. BioXcellerator is working to lead to research into how patients with COVID-19 are treated. Stem cell therapy could completely improve the quality of life of patients.
BioXcellerator Is Leading The Way
BioXcellerator is working towards creating new treatment methods for patients with COVID-19. Our team believes that stem cell therapy can greatly improve the quality of life of patients that are suffering from lingering COVID-19 symptoms. We believe that stem cells can reduce inflammation and the immune system response.
BioXcellerator is working directly with the Colombian government to assess the therapeutic potential of patients with COVID-19. We are currently working on a study to showcase that stem cells can treat patients who are actively infected with COVID-19. Stem cells can reduce the immune system’s response and help the body fight off the virus.
This study may show that patients can fight off COVID-19 and completely recover. The study could lead to an additional followup study about how stem cells can help long COVID patients. Our team is looking into other ways that we can improve the quality of life of COVID-19 patients.
The BioXcellerator team is always looking for new, innovative treatment methods to improve our patients quality of life. One area that we are actively looking into is a treatment we call ‘golden cells.’ Many stem cell clinics create stem cell therapies that utilize subpar stem cells. These clinics may not have the proper quality control processes and standards to ensure the vitality and potency of their stem cells.
The BioXcellerator team has created a comprehensive, rigorous process to ensure that our treatments are of the highest quality. Our screening process uses a set of criteria to determine which stem cells are most likely to provide the most beneficial therapeutic effect. We are able to test stem cells for any genetic deficiencies that could cause adverse effects. ‘Golden cells’ should have the ability to help patients who are suffering from COVID-19 long-term symptoms. These cells are the 1% of stem cells.
If you are a COVID-19 long hauler, you have more options than just conventional medical treatments. You need to be your best patient advocate and find other treatment methods that work for your unique case. Stem cell therapy may be able to help patients who are still experiencing long-term symptoms from the virus. Reach out to your healthcare professional today to learn more about all of your treatment options for your long-term COVID-19 symptoms.