After living in a pandemic for two years, things are finally beginning to go back to normal, with instances of Covid dropping and restrictions starting to ease. That being said, a significant portion of the population continue to suffer from long term effects of Covid 19, often called “Long Covid.” From brain fog, to fatigue, to a lingering cough or other symptoms, individuals with long covid find themselves struggling with an ailment that still isn’t completely understood by doctors or scientists. If you’re dealing with long covid, these resources may be able to help.
In certain instances, long covid may be severe enough to constitute a disability, especially if the symptoms prevent someone from working or impacts their ability to care for themselves. In these cases, you can apply for disability benefits in addition to applying for other disability resources (such as help with transportation or personal care). To apply for disability benefits, you will need to provide personal information, information about your medical disability, information about your current and previous employment, and a completed disability form. You can also request accommodations to make working easier if you have long covid but are still able to work, such as telecommuting, additional breaks, or permission to have special chairs or equipment.
Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers are required to provide twelve weeks of job-protected unpaid medical leave with the continuation of the same employer-offered health insurance that the employee was covered by before they took the leave. (Additionally, if the employer offers leave, they may be able to apply for tax credits.) In order to get FMLA-covered medical leave, the employee must have been an employee for the covered employer for at least 12 months, have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for the last 12 months before applying for the leave, and work for an employer who has a minimum of 50 employees located within 75 miles of the employer. Certain public agencies may be covered by FMLA no matter the number of employees they have. If you’re suffering from long covid, taking advantage of medical leave can be useful to rest and to get additional help.
Long Covid Clinics
With long covid still being relatively new and not that understood, many doctors aren’t quite sure how to treat it. However, long covid clinics are popping up across the United States, dedicated to learning more about this ailment and how to best treat individuals afflicted by it. These clinics offer access to physical and mental health care, as well as guides to help navigate financial troubles, housing, and other assistance that may be necessary for those suffering from long covid. Search for long covid care clinics near you to find the closest one and determine if they will be able to help.
Covid 19 vaccinations, testing, and treatments are available at no cost through the federal government. If you don’t have health insurance but are suffering from long covid, talk to a healthcare provider and ask if they will provide treatment through the HRSA Uninsured program and therefore bill the federal government for the cost of care (instead of sending the bill to you). You can also check if you qualify for health coverage, or see what free healthcare clinics are available in your area.
Treatment of Symptoms
Symptoms of long covid can range from mildly inconvenient to debilitating. This Long Covid Support group lists different ways that symptoms can be treated, such as breathing exercises, mild physical exercises, and a suggested diet. As always, you should consult your doctor if you’re having any trouble with Long Covid, and get their approval before trying a new treatment plan.
If you’re struggling with housing due to a hardship caused by Covid 19, you can still apply for housing assistance. This may include forbearance for those who have a mortgage, and rental assistance for those who rent (or for landlords whose tenants cannot afford their rent). If you’ve lost your housing, you can get assistance finding a safe place to stay and getting back on your feet. The important thing is to stay safe and know that there are options to help.
Long Covid Research Studies
Because long covid is still such a mystery, research studies are needed to determine why it only affects certain individuals, why the symptoms of long covid vary from person to person, and why some people eventually recover while others are still suffering. Talk to your doctor to determine if you should sign up for a long covid research study, and search to see which studies are available near you that you can participate in.
Do Your Own Research
As with many things in life, you are your own best advocate. It is unknown exactly what causes long covid to affect certain individuals, or if the effects will go away on their own. Stay up to date on the latest covid research and come up with questions to ask your healthcare professionals. Follow the CDC and the World Health Organization to get the latest updates on COVID-19 and Long Covid.
Many people struggling with an illness or disease find solace by joining a support group. Support groups can be a useful way to find resources and learn more information, but they also provide a mental benefit by letting you know you’re not alone. Other people are dealing with long covid as well, and they can provide guidance, comfort, and emotional support. See if there is a long covid support group available in your community, or search for one online.
How to Prevent Long Covid
The best way to prevent long covid is to avoid catching covid in the first place. Follow CDC recommended pandemic guidelines, such as getting vaccinated, isolating or quarantining after exposure to Covid 19, and testing regularly. If you get sick, contact your doctor to ask about treatment and next steps.