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Jayson Tatum needs an inhaler before games due to long-term Covid symptoms

The Celtics forward needs an inhaler before every game so he can breathe properly.

Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

While many of us are in the process of being vaccinated, or organizing our immunization against Covid-19, some are still dealing with lingering effects of the virus. This includes Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Tatum told reporters after his game on Tuesday night that he’s still struggling with Covid symptoms, causing him to need an inhaler prior to taking the court. He scored 32 points in a gutsy win over the Blazers, but his medical situation goes to prove that Covid isn’t like the cold or flu where you’re out of the woods following a recovery.

Granted, considering the severity of the pandemic, and the vast number the virus has killed, using an inhaler is relatively minor. However, a 23-year-old in peak physical condition should give us all pause if you’re not already thinking about the long-term effect of contracting Covid, even if you’re in a low-risk group.

A Baylor School of Medicine study showed that as many as 10 percent of those who contracted the virus could become what are being called “long haulers.” These are people who have made it through the typical three week recovery, but still show signs of the virus.

“The acute illness when uncomplicated will normally last about two to three weeks,” Dr. Fidaa Shaib said in a Baylor School of Medicine blog. “Symptoms persisting beyond a month is where we are seeing more of a chronic or long-lasting effect.”

There are numerous long-term symptoms people who have contracted Covid are exhibiting, but those most concerning to athletes are a variety of cardio-pulmonary issues including:

  • Persistent respiratory symptoms including chest pains and shortness of breath.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms like fatigue.
  • Symptoms affecting the brain, like lack of focus, memory loss, or anxiety.

Tatum initially tested positive for the virus back in January, and while he made a recovery, the player remains vocal about the long-term effect contracting the virus is having on his life. It raises questions about how sports leagues around the world could be damaged long term by players contracting Covid, even if they’ve seemingly fully recovered.