NEWTOWN, Pa. - For many people, COVID lasts for only a couple of weeks. Others are what have become known as 'long haulers,' or people who got COVID last year and are still feeling symptoms. It's a disease that won't go away.
A local doctor thinks she may have a solution.
"It was the best day," said Rico Rodriguez as he recalled the day he received a clean bill of health after 47 days in the hospital.
Cell phone video shows him leaving the hospital for rehab with staff cheering him on. He was free from COVID-19.
"I was alive, right? That was the blessing," he said. It was March 26 of 2020 when Rico left his Yardley home for the emergency room.
"I had a fever. It hit like 103,104 on and off," he said. Rico was put on a ventilator.
"I woke up 37 days later. I slept through the whole month of April," he said.
After overcoming things like kidney failure, liver, gall bladder problems, and other ailments, COVID still had a grip on him.
"This is a lingering issue that I deal with every day," he said.
Rico is a long hauler. Someone experiencing COVID symptoms long after beating the virus.
"I just go up a flight of steps and I just have to slow down and pace myself. I'm heaving. My doctor said my muscle strength will never come back 100% and I get fatigued faster," he said.
FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson found out about a doctor in Newtown trying to help people like Rico suffering some in silence and without treatment. Because little is known about the long-term effects of COVID-19.
"It's a thing. Unfortunately, it's a really big thing," said Dr. Lori Gerber. She’s a board-certified physician specializing in non-traditional wellness.
"I got multiple phone calls from people that were diagnosed clear of COVID and still having symptoms," she said. Symptoms like chronic cough, brain fog, tightness in the chest, and continued loss of taste and smell to name a few.
"They can't function day-to-day, they can't do their jobs effectively and parenting becomes difficult. There are so many things. I think the frustration level is very high," said Dr. Gerber.
She also points out it's unclear whether the COVID bug is still present causing the lingering symptoms or if it's a chronic inflammatory process exacerbated by COVID or both.
"If we can't reset the system or actually shut down the system then we can't make you feel better. I think that's key and it's definitely holistic. We're talking about things that are very natural," she said as she shows Wilson some of the treatments she uses in protocols for her patients to help clean out organs.
"Ways that can shut off that light switch that's turned on so we can really start to calm the immune system down and calm the inflammatory system down with different vitamins and supplements," said Dr. Gerber.
She expects patients could start seeing improvement in at least three to six months and without prescription drugs.
"There's really only a couple of things pharmacologically that turn that off. And the safety profile of those things is not very good especially long term and what I'm seeing with long-haulers it's not a short-term fix," said Dr. Gerber.
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