Contributed by: Rachana Arya
As doctors and scientists are racing to understand the many ways in which COVID-19, affects the brain and body, they’re also trying to figure out the long-term effects of the infection on recovered patients.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of people infected with Covid-19 could recover within the stipulated timeframe of two weeks, scientists are concerned about a substantial number of patients who could not return to full health, weeks or even months after they first become ill. They still complained of excessive fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty in concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and poor sleep.
We know that an ordinary virus makes you sick for a few days and then goes away. But with this novel disease, an increasing number of people were back to hospitals, after encountering longer recovery periods and unanticipated ‘relapses.’ Experts describe these ‘persisting symptoms’ as wide-ranging and sometimes “bizarre,” ranging from breathlessness, fatigue, pains, and fevers to crippling headaches and debilitating fatigue.
According to research, one out of every 20 COVID patients experience long-term lingering symptoms that last at least a month, if not longer. Despite the fact that the median recovery period from onset to clinical recovery for moderate cases is around 14 days, one out of ten people still has symptoms after three weeks. Many survivors have begun to challenge the notion of a two-week recovery, leaving rehabilitation experts largely in the dark.
What Are the Lingering Symptoms of COVID-19?
The common prolonged manifestations that persist are:
- Fatigue – A feeling of fatigue and exhaustion isn’t unusual in the aftermath of coronavirus infection. Patients with COVID-19 experience lasting fatigue that worsens after exercise or mental exertion. With a debilitating weakness, patients experience palpitations and unbalanced energy levels leaving them bedridden for days or even weeks.
- Joint Pain and Headaches – This is the second common long-term consequence of COVID-19. Many patients experience joint pain, muscle aches, and headaches for weeks, in addition to a general feeling of tiredness or fatigue.
- Breathlessness – Also called dyspnea, it is usually accompanied by chest pain. This is particularly common in people who were admitted to intensive care during the active phase. Shortness of breath can also indicate scarring in the lungs, which is also a long-term complication.
- A Racing Heart: Accumulating evidence suggests that in some patients the virus could be involved in triggering arrhythmias, a distinct clinical syndrome characterized by irregular heartbeats.
- Cough: Despite the fact that fever and cough are among the first symptoms of COVID-19, many patients experience prolonged symptoms of chronic dry or wet cough even after they have recovered.
- Anxiety and Stress: Post-Covid-19 care is needed not just for the body, but also for the mind. This is because an increasing number of patients can experience ongoing psychological effects ranging from mild anxiety and stress to severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mood disorders.
Going forward, what’s come through very strongly is that COVID-19 isn’t just a short-term respiratory infection; it can also cause physical and neurological symptoms that may last for months after people become sick. Researchers will need to follow patients over an extended recovery period, to identify if the damage is long-lasting or if, perhaps counterintuitively, the body is able to make a swift recovery.
We don’t know how many people who recuperated from COVID would remain hobbled in the long run with strange symptoms. However, it is possible that tens of thousands of people across the globe will never be the same.