- Authored by Dr Farah Ingle, Director-Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital ~
As COVID 19 pandemic continues to grip the world, India is gradually limping back to health. India’s recovery rate continues to rise, and now stands at 95.31%. However, an important question still looms large – ‘Does a COVID-19 patient completely recover upon being discharged from the hospital?’
Current cases show that the disease attacks more than just the respiratory system, it affects multiple organs, causing blood clots and inflammation. Several patients who have recovered from COVID19 have returned to the hospital’s emergency room with heart, lung, neurological and other complications. Many patients who have had milder forms of COVID19, have persistent symptoms of fatigue and difficulty breathing for up to 60 days post-infection!
Post COVID health impact
Some patients who have recovered from COVID 19 may continue to face a range of health issues, depending on the severity of their infection. There have been reports of individuals still experiencing symptoms months after the infection, including continued loss of taste or smell, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, cognitive problems, and recurring fever. It is to be noted that not all patients who have recovered from COVID19 report long-term complications.
Patients in the post COVID19 phase, who developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) could have a higher risk of long-term health issues like:
1. LUNG SCARRING: Several reports suggest that after recovering from severe COVID-19, some patients may experience lung damage, including partial or complete lung scarring (Pulmonary Fibrosis) that results in severe functional limitations. Gradually the scar tissue can destroy the normal lung and make it difficult for oxygen to get into the blood. Low oxygen levels can cause shortness of breath, particularly while performing activities that cause physical exertion.
2. HEART HEALTH: Some people who recover from COVID19 may have lingering heart damage or Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), months after their initial infection. Severe systemic inflammatory conditions during COVID-19 may aggravate irregular heartbeat in some individuals. The acute inflammation caused by the virus can worsen both cardiac and kidney function.
3. MENTAL HEALTH: People who required intensive care during their COVID treatment at the hospital, are at increased risk for mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. In addition to mood disorders, several recovered patients may have neuropsychological symptoms including dizziness, numb limbs, long-term loss of smell and taste, cognitive changes, such as difficulties with attention and memory/ brain fog. They could also suffer neurological complications like Stroke.
Specialised services for coping with after-effects: Hence, it is critical to take health and safety precautions concerning COVID19 seriously. While in Mumbai we are slowly resuming business and social lives, many cities are still reporting an increase COVID19 confirmed cases. It is also important to look for early warning signs such as drop in oxygen level, breathlessness and unexplained chest pain. Safety precautions that we can take to minimize exposure and risk include:
⦁ Physical distancing (minimum of 6ft between two individuals)
⦁ Wearing mask in public
⦁ Regular handwashing with soap & water/ sanitising hands
⦁ Intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin D & Zinc supplements
⦁ Have a balanced diet & immunity boosting foods
⦁ Regularly exercise
⦁ Undergo a basic health check-up at regular intervals
Many hospitals including Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, have come up with a much-needed novel initiatives to help patients with post COVID OPD services. This OPD will help screen patients from time to time, detect complications early, provide medical intervention and offer mental health counselling. To resolve your queries about Post COVID19 Syndrome, connect with us on 022 3919 9222.