What does long COVID feel like? "I went from fast and smart to dumb and slow"

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – We want you to know about one of the lingering side-effects of COVID.

It’s called long COVID.

And a new study shows most of the people who have it, never had to be in a hospital when they first got infected.

Want to know how bad it can be? Here’s the story of Liz Szczesniak

"I say I went from fast and smart to dumb and slow," she said.

In September Szczesniak got COVID. It was rough but she didn’t have to go to the hospital. Several months later, however, her life changed when she got long COVID.

"I went from working at a large pharmaceutical company, working 50 to 60 hours a week, really important, intense stuff," she said. "To talking about putting dinner in the dishwasher."

Long COVID affected her mind, eye sight and blood pressure.

"There’s a lot of us out there suffering from this," Rita Fullerton said.

Months after she recovered from a mild case of COVID at Thanksgiving, Fullerton’s favorite foods started smelling horrible and she’s a catering chef.

"I used to say everything smelled and tasted like death because that’s the only thing that came to mind," she said.

Fullerton never went to the hospital when she had COVID either.

A new study based on billions of insurance claims and more than 78,000 patients, shows 75 percent of people with long COVID were not hospitalized when they had COVID.

And most of them are women.

Dr. Nisha Viswanathan is the director of the long COVID program at UCLA.

Brean: "What does that tell you?"

Dr. Nisha Viswanathan, Dir. Long COVID Program UCLA Health: "It goes to show we don’t know as much about COVID as we orginally thought. And it shows it probably does affect our system, throughout our body more than we had initially imagined."

On her birthday in February, Liz’s husband gave her a ring that says "this too shall pass."

She’s afraid her life will never be the same. But because some of her long COVID symptoms are changing, she’s hopeful.

"And, um, this too shall pass," she said holding the ring.

There is no FDA-approved treatment for long COVID but they’re working on some at UCLA.

The symptoms are usually shortness of breath, chest pain, anxiety, fatigue and brain fog. The U.S. Government Accountability Office thinks it affects one in every 14 people who got COVID.

UCLA says if you’re vaccinated and healthy, you may less likely to get long COVID. But Liz and Rita had all their shots.