Long term COVID, also referred to sometimes as post-acute COVID, is a reality that is now accepted by the majority of all health practitioners today. In fact, The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) recently published their findings estimating that of the nearly eighty million Americans who survived a round with the coronavirus, roughly 30% (or about 24 million) are currently dealing with some level of Long COVID. Typical symptoms of this post-acute COVID include headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, dizziness, breathing difficulty and persistent brain fog, plus a growing list of disturbing urological complications. Although more time and increased studies are still required, many are concerned over the long-term effects that Long COVID may be having on many men in the United States.
What Long COVID Effects Are Urologists Seeing In Men?
Since the pandemic's outbreak in early 2020, the respiratory tract has been the center of attention, but COVID-19-associated complications affecting the genitourinary tract are also frequently reported, raising concerns about possible long-term damage in these organs. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which plays a central role in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) invasion, is highly expressed in the genitourinary tract (especially in a man's kidney proximal tubule cells, bladder urothelial cells and testes), indicating that these organs may be at a high risk level for cell damage.
COVID-19 can manifest through urological symptoms and complications, including acute kidney injury (AKI), which is associated with poor survival rates, severe structural changes in a man's testes and impairment of spermatogenesis, plus hormonal imbalances (mostly secondary hypogonadism). Thus, urologists play a crucial role in detecting and managing damage to a man's genitourinary tract that's caused by COVID-19 and its ever growing number of variants.
Results from numerous autopsy studies have shown severe structural damage and changes in the testes of deceased patients with COVID-19. An acute impairment of spermatogenesis in patients with COVID-19 is probably caused by fever, however, the existence of long-term effects of COVID-19 on fertility, as observed in other viral testis infections, is still highly conceivable. Additionally, low levels of total testosterone in male patients with COVID-19 are frequently reported, and hypogonadism is often secondary. COVID-19-associated coagulopathy (or impaired clot formation resulting in either excessive bleeding or clotting) can cause endothelial damage and vasculitis, potentially leading to thromboembolism, which obviously also affects a patient's urogenital organs.
Lastly, there's been a lot of attention focused recently on COVID-19 infections being associated with endocrine imbalances (such as lowered testosterone levels in men), hypogonadism, lowered sperm counts, reduction of sperm "quality", severe testicular tissue damage, and other potential long-term threats on male fertility being seen in COVID-19 male survivors. Again, more time and research are required to determine the full extent and severity of these possible Long COVID symptoms and the extent of the damage that the virus may cause in regards to men's sexual health.
What Should Men Suffering From Long COVID Do?
Although experience with long-term complications of COVID-19 is still limited in urology, all the existing evidence suggests that a man's kidneys and testes are at a particularly high risk level for possible severe damage following a COVID-19 infection. Although only more time and enhanced clinical studies and trials will reveal the exact extent of the possible damage, for men who've survived a bout with COVID-19 it's highly recommended to see a Urologist to get a thorough evaluation regarding the risks of possible long-term damage and the possible medical treatments that are available. This is especially true for men who already had pre-existing urological conditions prior to having COVID-19 exposure, such as male sexual health issues.
It's also important to note that an experienced Urologist, such as Dr. Bruce Sloane at Philadelphia Urology Associates, is highly trained at treating Long COVID in general, whether a patient experiences urological symptoms or not. So even if you have no urological symptoms - if you're experiencing Long COVID symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, dizziness, breathing difficulty and persistent brain fog - we recommend that you talk to a qualified physician as soon as possible to determine exactly what's possibly going on with you.
Questions About Long or Post-acute COVID?
At Philadelphia Urology Associates, Dr. Bruce Sloane is a nationally renowned specialist in Men's Health issues and Age Management Medicine. Throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, patients seek his expertise to treat low testosterone levels, hypogonadism and the erectile dysfunction that is commonly associated with it. Using state-of-the-art equipment and having extensive specialized education and training, Dr. Sloane is considered to be the leading urologist in the tri-state area for treating Low T and other urological disorders.
As we discussed previously, it's important to note that an experienced Urologist, such as Dr. Bruce Sloane at Philadelphia Urology Associates, is highly trained at treating Long COVID in general, whether a patient experiences urological symptoms or not. So even if you have no urological symptoms - if you're experiencing Long COVID symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, dizziness, breathing difficulty and persistent brain fog - we recommend that you talk to a qualified physician as soon as possible to determine exactly what's possibly going on with you.
If you have any questions about the treatments available to you, we urge you to contact us now online or call us at (215) 563-1199 today to discuss how we can help you!