AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Dean of Medical College of Georgia, Dr. David Hess, says about 1/3 of patients experience some type of long-term side effects after COVID-19.

He says physical and mental fatigue are the most commonly reported side effects.

“By mental fatigue I mean having trouble staying at a task,” Dr. Hess said. “Reading a book, reading an article. It’s hard to maintain attention and they just feel tired and can’t complete it. Same with physical fatigue. Now these people look fine, but they just can’t do what they used to do.”

Other common symptoms include trouble sleeping, racing heart, anxiety, and depression.

“Anxiety and depression follow viral illness not uncommonly. They’ve done some analyses comparing the COVID pandemic to flu pandemics, and it seems like depression and anxiety are more common with COVID than they are with flu,” Dr. Hess said.

Many patients say they did not experience any of these issues before contracting COVID. But for some, COVID has worsened pre-existing conditions like migraines or tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.

“Some people think that might be related to the depression, the fatigue, and the anxiety that goes with so-called ‘long COVID,'” Dr. Hess said. “Any symptoms you have, any pain you had before, seems to be intensified.”

Dr. Hess is one of the neurologists working on a study to see how COVID-19 impacts the brain. They will be following more than 500 Georgians, all who have experienced the virus, over the next five years.

“If there are things like persistent depression or cognitive problems where you can’t focus, that’s why we want to follow these people…so we can develop treatments,” Dr. Hess said.