Surviving COVID-19 is not the end of the virus nightmare, but the start of managing post-COVID infection effects on health in the long term.
In order to unravel the mystery, it is crucial to examine two points. First, persisting health issues post-COVID. Second, managing post-COVID infection effects, and disruptions to daily living.
Persisting Health Issues Post-COVID
For now, the lasting effects of COVID-19 on survivors are still being studied. And facts still unfolding. However, some side effects are manifesting after recovery from the infection. Find below a few potential long-term impacts that are showing up in some COVID-19 patients.
Neurocognitive and mental health
Interestingly COVID-19 seems to affect the central nervous system, with long-lasting neurological symptoms. These symptoms include dizziness, headaches, weakened consciousness, vision, loss of taste/smell, and nerve pain.
Also included in long-term complications of COVID-19 are decreased attention, concentration, and memory. As well as poor function of nerves in your arms, legs, fingers, and toes.
Delirium is another cognitive effect for people who receive intensive treatment in hospitals. Delirium persists months after hospitalisation. For example, many patients who recovered from COVID-19 still had issues with short term memory. Or the ability to understand written and spoken words, and learn new things.
Post-infection fatigue syndrome
COVID-19 is a new disease and too early to say what survivors are likely to experience in a year’s time. However, some researchers feel that many people with the new coronavirus will proceed to develop post-infection chronic fatigue syndrome. Just as with SARS.
COVID-19 appears to affect both lungs which then increases the risks of lung scarring. Already there is residual scarring in COVID-19 patients. But having any type of underlying disease like asthma or hypertension may increase the risk of longer-term lung issues. Additionally, the older you are, the higher your chance of scarring.
As such, for individuals with this kind of lung scarring, normal activities may become more challenging. Also routine things, like running up a flight of stairs, would render these individuals gasping for air.
Stroke, embolisms, and blood clotting
Doctors observed that abnormal blood clotting is happening in people after they have recovered. In view of this, doctors recommend that recovered COVID-19 patients should continue taking anticoagulants after being discharged from the hospital.
Medical experts are suggesting that COVID-19 may pose particular problems for men. Theoretically, it is possible to experience testicular damage and resultant infertility after COVID-19 infection. This means that young men who want children should receive a consultation regarding their fertility, after surviving COVID-19.
According to some researches, an average of 16% of COVID-19 patients had signs of cardiovascular damage or acute myocarditis and heart failure. Furthermore, researchers warn that in survivors, COVID-19 may cause lingering cardiac damage, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke
Impaired liver function
Researchers found that after recovered patients were discharged from the hospital, the body did not return to normal. The most concerning effect is lingering impaired liver function.
Managing Post-COVID Infection Effects
Anticipate, prevent & manage
The fact is that COVID-19 infection has profound effects on many different organs in the body. The good news is that the damage caused by COVID-19 will heal in many patients. But for now, post-COVID 19 side effects can be anticipated, prevented, and managed to your benefit. At least being able to anticipate post-COVID infection effects will put your mind in a ‘ready’ mode to face whatever health issues may, or may not, occur.
Commission more research
There is a need for more researches – whether repurposed, redesigned, or completely new. The goals of these researches are to study the physical, mental and socio-economic results of the pandemic. This is because the uncertainties for COVID-19 survivors require several long-term group studies. Particularly on genetic and environmental factors over a period of time.
Shun heart damaging activities
When cases of COVID-19 are connected with myocarditis – a heart problem- health experts recommend such patients should avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Equally important is to stay away from rigorous exercise until approved by their doctor.
Initiate mental health interventions
It is important to target mental health interventions to COVID-19 survivors. Such interventions will help them deal with a prolonged convalescence from fatigue.
Lessen delirium in ICU patients
Physicians are devoting huge effort to lessen delirium in patients in the ICU through the use of sedatives, noise reduction, and mental stimulation. Also beneficial is the constant refocusing of the patient to date, time, and location.
Identify potential organs for long-term effects
Given the multi-organ effect of COVID-19 on the body, survivors may have a variety of long-term effects on their organs, including ‘post-COVID lung disease’. So, examining the organs that are affected during infection could give doctors an idea of where the long-term effects on the body are likely to manifest.
Currently, many discussions and research of COVID-19 focus on the disease’s death rate, while ignoring the risk of persistent health issues. In order to plan effectively for a post-COVID future, the world must fund long-term researches on survivors. And in the process separate the morbidity linked with the novel coronavirus.
At the end of the day, the major question should be what is causing recurring symptoms? Is it reactivation of persistent infection or reinfection? Is it infection with another virus, or bacteria, while the immune system is going through recovery? Only more researches will answer these questions and unravel completely the mystery around COVID-19.
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