Man who survived COVID-19 says there are still some lingering symptoms

A 23-year-old man is sharing his story of survival after battling COVID-19.

23-year-old Matt Newey says he and his friends went on a ski trip in Utah last month, and all five tested positive.

Newey had the most severe symptoms. He said he suffered weird symptoms he’s never experienced before. In addition to breathing problems, he lost his sense of smell and taste. A Valleywise healthcare doctor who treats COVID-19 patients daily says it’s common for a lot of people who catch the virus.

"It's been over a month long without my sense of taste and smell," said Newey. "It's gotten to the point my stomach will not tell me I'm hungry. It's weird."

Each of Newey's friends had different experiences with COVID-19.

"Their symptoms were very mild," said Newey. "A couple of them lost their taste and smell. One of them was asymptomatic too."

A phoenix physician who treats COVID-19 patients says studies conducted in San Diego and Italy show loss of certain senses are common symptoms of the novel virus.

"In a group in Italy, 34% reported losing their smell and taste. It appears that the sicker you are, the more likely it is to occur," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio, an emergency room physician with Valleywise.

Dr. Lovecchio says in most cases, patients reported gaining their senses back toward the end of their recovery.

"In 70% of the people, symptoms lasted about a week," said Dr. Lovecchio. "I doubt it would be permanent, but never say never, especially with such a new disease."

Many patients also reported getting severe headaches, but Newey says his headaches led to a more unusual symptom.

"My headaches got so bad, it caused brain inflammation," said Newey. "It got to the point it irritated my optic nerve. So irritated I had tears stream down my cheeks."

Newey says after a month, his muscles still ache and his senses are not back yet. Doctors say that’s normal, since patients with severe symptoms can take several weeks to fully recover.

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