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Long-term effects of COVID-19 may not be fully understood for years

Dale and Donna Holland share their COVID-19 recovery process, following our first report in August, on their battle with the virus.

PHOENIX — This latest COVID-19 surge in our state has many asking, what does recovery look like for those who have beaten the coronavirus?

The short answer is that there’s still a lot for researchers to discover about COVID-19. But with every patient who heals, doctors get more answers to help others recover.

Back in August, we first brought you Dale and Donna Holland’s story about their battle with COVID-19. Since then, they’ve recovered and they’re feeling good. But Donna still has a couple of lingering symptoms, like some loss of taste and smell.

"There’s some she does and some things she doesn’t smell or taste," Dale Holland said. "And then she also had, we didn’t equate it to COVID at first until she talked to her doctor, she had a lot of hair loss.”

Like the Hollands both had different symptoms, Dr. Ross Goldberg with Valleywise Health, says the problem with recovery is it’s difficult to predict.

“Some people who have mild symptoms have long term problems," Dr. Goldberg said. "Others who have been more severe recover and seem to be doing OK. We don’t have that kind of guide yet to figure out who may have these problems down the road and who won’t.”

As physicians like Dr. Goldberg learn more, the CDC lists long-term COVID-19 symptoms online.

Symptoms range from being tired to coughing, muscle pain, depression, heart and lung issues, and more, including hair loss like in Donna’s case.

“We’re going to study this for years," Dr. Goldberg said. "Take every virus we know about. We never stop studying it. We continue to study and learn and evolve.”

And that evolution, Dr. Goldberg says turns into better treatment over time. It starts with talking to your physician first.

“It’s going to be a symptom-based treatment plan as we move forward," Dr. Goldberg said. "As these new medications and new treatments come available, how do we integrate that into care during the acute phase and the recovery phase from COVID-19."

For the Hollands, recovering has given them a fresh outlook on life.

“You really have to appreciate every moment and opportunity you get," Dale said. "Because it can so easily be taken away from you.”

Dr. Goldberg adds being closely monitored and having a good open conversation with your doctor is the best way to start treatment and recovery from COVID-19.

Remembering the Arizonans we lost to COVID

More than 6,000 people in Arizona have died from COVID-19. Here’s a look back at a few of the Arizonans we lost to the coronavirus.