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Long COVID Syndrome – the distressing impact of the infection months after making recovery

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 Long Covid Syndromw

~ Authored by Dr. Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – A Fortis Network Hospital

Our battle with the novel Coronavirus continues. It has been more than a year since the virus was first detected in Wuhan city of China that spread across the globe. Its impact was much felt in our daily lives as we saw tremendous changes in the way we live, interact, do business, and feel. But beyond these, the matters of health played a significant role. Well, COVID19 now in its second wave has been raging its wrath upon us. What we now see is a phenomenon is called ‘Long COVID’, which has had a debilitating effect on patient’s lives. 

The past year, the focus has been on saving and enriching lives during the COVID19 pandemic, but the infection’s long-term consequences are now gaining attention, and people continue to reel under its incapacitating impact. With constant research and efforts made to understand the virus and its true nature,  we have determined some of its impact on health – such as neurological issues, thyroid malfunctioning, chronic pulmonary disorders, cardiac issues, mental health, and more. A more crucial question that needs to be answered today is that ‘whether we can attain complete recovery?’

While there is no textbook definition of ‘Long COVID’, patients who experience post-COVID symptoms lasting over six months are known to be suffering from this condition. These patients are not just those who have had lengthy stays in the Intensive Care Unit, but also those who have had mild symptoms and may or may not have needed hospitalization. Most common symptoms of ‘Long COVID’ include fatigue, breathlessness on least amount of exertion, persistent cough, muscular & joint pain, drop/ inaccuracy in hearing and sight, persistent loss of smell and taste. Many patients with ‘Long COVID’ are also noted to have mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. 

Studies are being conducted worldwide to understand the long-term impact of COVID19, however, there are increasing concerns that even after making a complete recovery, a section of patients may face lifelong implications. 

National Health Service has put together a guide to help patients who’ve recovered from COVID19 understand and brace for post-COVID complications. Their 3-P plan guideline focuses on Pace-Plan-Prioritize. 

  1. Pace: Take your own time to get back to normal life after making recovery. Do not force your body or yourself to get back to normal work schedules immediately.  While you plan your daily chores, also factor in small breaks – rest between two tasks
  2. Plan: Spread our chores across the week. You could also look at re-arranging your home in a way that your everyday use items are close and easily accessible
  3. Prioritize: Split your to-do list into chores that you can do yourself and those you need help with, which means running outdoor errands or caring for a pet, or kids and elderly family members, etc. It would be ideal to delegate your outdoor work to another family member, if possible.

Lastly, continue your teleconsultation with your doctors regularly and update them about your health vitals. The doctors need to access your post-COVID recovery. Your doctor will also be able to indicate if you need to undergo any tests, make any lifestyle changes, or recalibrate medication. Ensure medication adherence for complete recovery.  Don’t miss your doctor appointments, eat healthy, sleep well, and stay positive.