ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Larissa McPherson contracted COVID in February 2020 when the pandemic first started. Now nearly two years later, McPherson said she’s still dealing with ramifications from the virus, living with long COVID.  

“It’s causing permanent hearing damage. I very well may end up with a hearing aid at some point and time due to long-haul COVID,” she said.  

McPherson said Dr. Leonard Weinstock at the Missouri Baptist Medical Center helped explain. 

“He immediately had me come into his office and go through all of my symptoms that I had dealt with because he was certain that this was the reason behind my concerns,” she said.  

Her symptoms included heart rate issues, vertigo, and multiple trips to vision specialists. Her visit with Dr. Weinstock confirmed she has long COVID.  

“I started crossing off all of the things that I had dealt with over the months and started putting all the pieces together,” McPherson said.  

So, what is long COVID? Dr. Weinstock said it’s a complex multi-system disorder that occurs after you get acute COVID-19. 

“The symptoms of COVID and accuse COVID are similar to what we see in our mass cell activation syndrome patients,” Dr. Weinstock said.  

Research published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Weinstock and other researchers hypothesized that mast cell activation could cause long covid symptoms. 

The research also suggests that long COVID symptoms could be mitigated by preventing mast cell activation.

“There’s actually only one study published on the treatment of long COVID and that’s using antihistamines h1 block or an h2 block we’ll those are basic things we use for our mask cell activation syndrome patients,” Dr. Weinstock said. 

Researchers believe this is a first step into what may lead to more effective ways to treat long COVID patients.  

Dr. Weinstock said a colleague at the University of Texas-San Antonio is already seeing results.  

“Her 500 people in her long COVID clinic with mast cell activation syndrome drugs have had remarkable improvement,” he said.