Medicine specialist talks treatments for lingering COVID-19 symptoms

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:40 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The symptoms of COVID-19 like loss of taste and smell, body aches and respiratory issues are bad enough, but what if they never went away even after you recovered?

Functional medicine specialist Dr. Aaron Hartman says there are some people who got the virus that might feel like it never left.

“They still have symptoms, they still have shortness of breath, they still have chest pain, they still have body aches,” Hartman said.

Hartman describes the condition as “Long-COVID,” a phenomenon where coronavirus symptoms linger on even after recovery.

According to the British Medical Journal, roughly 10 percent of people experience prolonged illness after recovery and there is limited data on the management of COVID-19 after the first three weeks of recovery.

“About 10 percent of people or about 70 percent of people who are hospitalized will have symptoms 1-2-3 up to six months out,” Hartman said. “An exposure causing symptoms is actually not new. What’s new is that we now have the SARS-COV-2 virus causing it.”

Fortunately, Hartman says the solution to potentially treating Long-COVID isn’t new either. He says he’s been following evidence that suggests that using a low dose of a drug called naltrexone, which is typically used for a drug overdose, could improve the condition.

“What happens with naltrexone at low doses, it actually helps modulate your immune system and this is actually information we’ve known for years,” Hartman said.

While Hartman says there has not yet been an official study conducted on the drug’s effectiveness on Long-COVID, he and his colleagues across the country suggest the results are promising.

“Myself and a group of probably 300 to 400 practitioners across the country started using it in our patients with Long-COVID and we started seeing positive results. We started doing that mid to late last summer,” Hartman said.

Hartman says those who believe they may have Long-COVID should be diagnosed by their physician before discussing treatment options like low-dose naltrexone. However, U.S. Pharmaceutical Company Sorrento Therapeutics has announced plans to conduct phase 2 trials to begin studying the drug’s effectiveness on lingering symptoms for a variety of ailments including COVID-19.

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