Alyssa Milano is speaking out about the lingering side effects of COVID-19 after testing positive for novel coronavirus antibodies. In a candid Instagram video, the 47-year-old actress revealed she’s suffering from hair loss, which many patients have reported after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
In the video, the mom of two brushed her wet hair and held up a handful of strands to show just how much is falling out. “Thought I’d show you what COVID-19 does to your hair. Please take this seriously,” she wrote in the caption. Clumps of hair continued to come out with every stroke. “One brushing, this is my hair loss,” she said in the clip. “Wear a damn mask.”
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an official list of COVID-19 symptoms, more research needs to be done on the lasting effects of the virus, which may include overwhelming fatigue, potential lung damage, heart problems, and hair loss.
According to a survey conducted by Survivor Corps, a Facebook support group for those who recovered from coronavirus, and Natalie Lambert, Ph.D., of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, hair loss is among the 50 most common effects reported by COVID-19 “long haulers,” or people suffering from long-term COVID-19 symptoms.
This form of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium, which can occur after the body goes through extreme stress, like drastic weight loss, surgery, or pregnancy.
“COVID-19 causes a lot of stress on the system,” Gary Goldenberg, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City recently told Prevention. “When the body is stressed, it channels blood flow and nutrients away from hair follicles.” (The good news is the condition is temporary and hair should start to grow back eventually.)
“This was me on April 2nd after being sick for 2 weeks. I had never been this kind of sick. Everything hurt. Loss of smell. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t keep food in me. I lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks. I was confused. Low-grade fever. And the headaches were horrible,” she wrote.
The actress said she was tested twice for COVID-19 and once for antibodies in March, but the three tests came back negative. It wasn’t until last week that she tested positive for novel coronavirus antibodies, months after she was initially sick.
“After living the last 4 months with lingering symptoms like vertigo, stomach abnormalities, irregular periods, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, zero short term memory, and general malaise, I went and got an antibody test from a blood draw (not the finger prick) from a lab. I am POSITIVE for COVID antibodies,” she wrote. “It felt like I was dying.”
On August 8, Alyssa found herself in the hospital again. “I am what they call a ‘long hauler,’” she wrote on Twitter. “Last night, I had real heaviness in my chest. I went to the ER just to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot. Thankfully, it wasn’t. This virus sucks. Please take it seriously.”
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