The COVID19 pandemic has hit the world hard, with patients succumbing to the infection, developing complications like organ damage, and having a prolonged stay in the ICU before making a complete recovery. A study conducted in Italy showed an overwhelming 87.4 per cent of patients, who has recovered from COVID19, reported persistence of at least one symptom - particularly fatigue and Dyspnoea (laboured breathing); this was reported even after two months of being discharged from the hospital! There have been several cases where some patients who recovered from COVID19 infection and discharged were sent back to hospitals due to emergency conditions like low oxygen levels. Some reports said that a lot many recovered cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed with lung diseases like pneumonia and fibrosis. Some even has reported of having reduced heart functions.
All of these factors contribute towards one key point that post-recovery of COVID-19 requires equal care just like the necessary precautions a COVID-19 patient takes. When a person suffers from COVID-19, the virus attacks the Endothelial Cell, which means a reduced immunity too. These long and short term impact and health conditions of COVID-19 is termed as the ‘Post COVID Syndrome’. Hence, if the COVID-19 phase is over, don’t think that the body will become normal overnight. Some may experience lethargy, body ache, itchy throat, etc. It is of utmost importance to monitor such cases, and a proper post-discharge rehabilitation plan is put in place, to monitor the patient’s health, so timely intervention could be done.
The Reason To Experience Post-COVID Syndrome?
The extent of post-COVID distress would likely depend on the extent and impact of the infection the patient suffered. Other factors such as smoking history, advanced age and comorbid conditions like Diabetes, Hypertension, Renal Disorders also come into the picture, which further reduces the immune response of patients. Men and women report the same post-COVID issues, but the incidence of Post COVID Syndrome/ Distress is seen more amongst males than females.
Top Checks For COVID-19 Survivors
Listed below are top checkpoints that a person should take into account after recovering from COVID-19:
- Daily check of oxygen saturation, it should be maintained at >94% on room air
- Watch for respiratory symptoms, i.e. persistence or worsening of symptoms like cough & breathlessness
- Persistent rise of body temperature above 100F
- Watch for signs of lethargy, drowsiness, and altered sensorium
- Regular monitoring of blood sugar in known diabetic patients is needed. COVID infection (as any other infection) alters blood sugar levels of the body. Strict monitoring once in 3 days and regular consultation with your doctor is required
- Regular blood pressure monitoring in Hypertensive patients is necessary to avoid accelerated Hypertension-related complications. Weekly blood pressure monitoring in case of controlled Hypertension, or more frequently in case of abnormal readings is required
- Follow up consultation with your doctor within seven days of discharge
- Blood investigations like CBC, CRP at first follow up, and subsequent follow-ups, if advised by your physician
- Repeat CT scan of the chest after three months to look the extent of Lung recovery post the COVID infection
Consequences Of Not Taking Caution After Recovery?
Patients may go into ‘Cytokine Storm’ - Immune cells flood and attack the Lungs they should actually be protecting! It could also happen that blood vessels could leak, or the blood starts clotting, and blood pressure could plummet, and organs could start to fail. Secondary complications are highly common in post COVID infections like Pulmonary Fibrosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Renal Failure, Liver Dysfunction, Coagulopathy (excessive bleeding or clotting), Acute Stroke, and Myocardial Infarction.
With inputs from Dr Md. Shakeel, Head-Emergency & Trauma, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital
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