Covid danger: Ef­fects may linger long af­ter re­cov­ery

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Front Page - San­chita Sharma

NEW DELHI: Clin­i­cians the world over are in­creas­ingly treat­ing Covid-19 as more than a res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease, with pa­tients re­port­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal, au­toim­mune and car­dio­vas­cu­lar symp­toms that can man­i­fest as strokes, heart at­tacks, mul­ti­sys­tem in­flam­ma­tory syn­drome, cy­tokine storm, loss of taste and smell, and fa­tigue that may oc­cur and last for weeks af­ter re­cov­ery.

Close to eight months since the dis­ease first came to light, and af­ter 23.7 mil­lions in­fec­tions and 814,000 deaths across the world, the range of ef­fects the Sars-cov2 has had on peo­ple adds to the vol­ume of many un­knowns about a virus that has caused the first pan­demic in a cen­tury.

“Around 50% pa­tients have resid­ual symp­toms post re­cov­ery, which range from fa­tigue and weak­ness to breath­less­ness that re­quires oxy­gena­tion at home even af­ter test­ing neg­a­tive for Covid-19. In some peo­ple, the symp­toms can per­sist for weeks,” said Dr Ra­jesh Chawla, se­nior pul­mo­nolo­gist and crit­i­cal care spe­cial­ist at In­draprastha Apollo Hos­pi­tals in Delhi, where he has been treat­ing Covid-19 pa­tients since the hos­pi­tal es­tab­lished iso­la­tion wards on March 26.

One of his pa­tients is Achal Jain, 53, who has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing breath­less­ness, ex­haus­tion and headaches since he re­cov­ered from Covid-19 four months ago.

“Four peo­ple from our fam­ily were hos­pi­talised with coro­n­avirus in April af­ter we con­tracted it from a mi­grant camp where we went to feed the hun­gry. We all re­cov­ered, but I still feel tired and have trou­ble sleep­ing, even though I did not need ICU ad­mis­sion,” said Jain, a busi­ness­man who lives in Ya­muna Vi­har in north-east Delhi.

LONG COVID

While there is no peer-re­viewed data on such long Covid, a sur­vey of 1,567 peo­ple on Face­book page called Sur­vivors Corps showed long-term symp­toms stretched from ex­treme fa­tigue to dif­fi­culty fo­cus­ing and mov­ing. While all long-haulers suf­fered from fa­tigue, more than half had dif­fi­culty breath­ing, con­cen­trat­ing, ex­er­cis­ing and sleep­ing, while at least 40% had anx­i­ety, mem­ory prob­lems and dizzi­ness.

A study of 110 pa­tients treated for Covid in a hos­pi­tal in Bris­tol, UK, found 75% were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at least one symp­toms three months af­ter re­cov­ery, with breath­less­ness, fa­tigue and mus­cle ache re­ported by 81 pa­tients long af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed free of dis­ease.

Th­ese symp­toms over­lap with those of pa­tients with chronic fa­tigue syn­drome (myal­gic en­cephalomye­li­tis), which is a dis­ease of un­known eti­ol­ogy.

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