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An Irish woman’s warning about the dangers of post-COVID-19 symptoms has gone viral.
On Jan. 8, Rachel Gunn shared a message to social media, detailing her frightening experience with pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) on both of her lungs. Her post has been shared more than 5,000 times on Facebook and has received more than 41,000 likes on Instagram.
The 28-year-old Dubliner contracted COVID-19 in October of last year, and was bedridden for almost two weeks. She was out of breath, and experienced aches and headaches. Gunn said she returned to work as soon as she was feeling “semi-better” but has never felt completely healthy since.
“For three months I had fatigue, anxiety and stress was through the roof and I experienced lung pain when I exercised,” she wrote. “But [I] considered these normal post-COVID symptoms [and] I was able to go about my day semi-normally and do minimal exercise. From what I read, I just had to get on with it and the symptoms would ease eventually.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers are still determining the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the body. However, common long-term symptoms include cough, shortness and joint pain. Brain fog as well as reports of depression, heart-palpitations have also been reported as well as rarer, more serious symptoms like inflammation of the heart muscle, abnormal lung functionality and acute kidney injury.
Gunn’s health took a turn for the worse shortly before Christmas when she says her health went dramatically “downhill.”
“For nearly two weeks I was so breathless I couldn't even get up the stairs without feeling like I ran K, even getting up and going to the bathroom was exhausting,” Gunn wrote. “I had migraines, heart palpitations, back pain and extreme fatigue, sleeping for 15-16 hours a day and still needing to spend the whole day in bed.”
Gunn said she first refused her mother’s requests to go to the hospital out of fear she would be making “too much of a fuss.” However, a CT scan later revealed that her lungs were “covered” in blood clots and that her heart had been “strained” from the virus.
Pulmonary embolisms occur when one of the lung’s main arteries are blocked. This dangerous condition occurs when blood clots from other parts of the body, like deep veins in the legs, travel to the lungs. . They present with shortness of breath, sharp chest pains and a cough and unless treated immediately, can permanently compromise lung function and can be life-threatening.
“I was admitted for three days and started on blood thinners. I now have to stay on blood thinners for at least a year, maybe more,” she explained. “I am now susceptible to blood clots and this will affect my life forever. I am 28-years-old, active, non smoker, otherwise healthy.”
Gunn urged friends to share her post in the hopes that it would help raise awareness for the seriousness of post-COVID-19 symptoms - and possibly save a life.
“Please share this post as I want to get this across to anyone who is experiencing a worsening of symptoms months after COVID not to ignore it,” she pleaded. “Extreme breathlessness is not something to be ignored. I am extremely lucky to have found out about my clots when I did.”