COVID – 19 Long-Term Effects & How to Tackle Them

Posted on : June 15, 2021 by Clinic One on COVID-19


Background

[1]After the first identified case of a novel coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, 44 similar cases were reported by Wuhan Municipality Health Association in a month. Later China notified the WHO of an outbreak of the disease on the 3rd of January 2020, in the same month the outbreak spread in other countries. The first international case of COVID-19 was recognized in Thailand.  [2]Seeing the rapid rise of infected personals WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern on 30th January 2020.

The virus was reported to cause respiratory infection. After entering a human body it affects the human respiratory tract causing mild flu-like symptoms at the beginning of the infection or shows no symptoms at all, later progressing to cause severe symptoms. The virus primarily infects the lungs of the body it has entered and causes death in severe cases from ARDS and pneumonia.


 Post COVID-19 Effects and Care


Transmission

[3]The Novel Coronavirus can transmit between individuals through respiratory droplets,(droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose of an infected individual).

It is to be noted that, the respiratory tract may not be the only route of transmission, it can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with mucous membranes in the eyes, mouth, or nose. [4]A study has shown that the digestive tract is a potential route of infection besides the respiratory tract.

[5]The guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention upon how the transmission of the virus can be reduced among unvaccinated individuals, suggests the use of a mask to cover the nose and mouth, social distancing of 6 feet with an individual who is not a part of one’s household, to avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor space, use of hand sanitiser, washing hands often with soap for 20 seconds, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces touched frequently, and getting authorize vaccination which are available.

Washing of hands with soap and water often enough or using hand sanitizer with a minimum of  60% alcohol content when soap and water are not readily available is highly recommended.


Post COVID-19 Syndrome

The virus is fairly new, scientists have been conducting research to gather more information about the long-term effects SARS-CoV-2 may cause on recovered patients.

[6]Those who display symptoms of the disease even though theoretically considered to have recovered and tested negative for the disease, with no explanation by an alternative diagnosis for the cause of the symptoms, have been referred to as “long haulers”, the patients of the post-COVID-19 syndrome.

The long-term effects of the disease have been said to affect individuals regardless of their age and medical conditions. Long haul symptoms have been reported among hospitalized as well as individuals who experienced mild symptoms while being diagnosed and treated for the virus.

[7]The long haul has been reported to manifest itself with a different combination of symptoms.

Symptoms a patient might experience as per CDC are as follow:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Headache
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities

[8]The virus has said to attack an individual’s body in numerous ways, causing harm to the lungs, heart, kidney, liver and other organs. Mental health issues too seem to have arose due to grief and loss, unresolved pain or fatigue from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after going through treatment in intensive care.

[9]According to a study published by The Lancet, 76% of the hospitalized patients had at least one symptom even after recovering from the virus. It was found that 76% of the people at the follow-up check-up, who were being examined for the study were still experiencing symptoms of the disease for as long as 6 months. The most common symptoms which were seen amongst the participants were fatigue and muscle weakness,  others reported experiencing anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep deprivation.

The participants who were severely affected by the virus were most likely to experience lingering respiratory issues, which the researchers suspect was due to lung damage. A significant number of participants were diagnosed with kidney problems while having normal kidney function during the treatment for the virus.

Breathing issues, heart problems, kidney damage, gastrointestinal system problems, are few problems to be precocious of post-COVID-19, [10]a significant rise in the number of diabetic patients after the outbreak of the virus has been noted. Several patients have said to develop the disease while being infected with the virus or shortly after recovering from it.


Post  COVID-19 care

Post-COVID health check-ups are suggested as the virus has the potential to damage organs. Clinical advice is suggested to be taken if an individual is experiencing any long haul symptom. [11]Patients who experienced acute COVID19 symptoms are advised follow-up check-ups and a referral chest x-ray after twelve weeks if they experience persistent or progressive respiratory symptoms. [12]It is advisable to keep a constant check on one’s health post-COVID-19, use of an oximeter is suggested for remote monitoring.

Mental health is not to be ignored or regarded as unnecessary, patients are highly encouraged to seek professional help if deemed necessary. [13]A psychosocial assessment is suggested if required by referral to tackle loneliness, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

(Note: the information mentioned above may be dated with the new more recent studies about the virus coming out, readers are requested to take a note of it. The content is not to be taken as a substitute for a doctor’s medical advice)


Author Bio: Rajyashree Rana is a recent BA sociology (honor) graduate from Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She is currently working at clinic one as a part-time research assistant.



[1] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?
[2] https://www.who.int/news/item/27-04-2020-who-timeline—covid-19
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32268644/
[4]https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.30.927806v1
[5] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
[6] https://health.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-information/covid-19-long-haulers.html
[7] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html
[8] https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n693.long
[9] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32656-8/fulltext
[10] https://www.google.com.np/amp/s/www.livescience.com/amp/covid19-may-trigger-diabetes.html
[11] https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/document-library/quality-improvement/covid-19/resp-follow-up-guidance-post-covid-pneumonia/
[12] https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n677
[13] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations


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