In the past few weeks, there have been reports that several patients are experiencing prolonged symptoms and health issues after recovering from Covid-19. An expert answers some common questions on this phenomenon termed as ‘Long Covid’
Although the second wave of Covid-19 cases seems to be slowing in parts of the country, the fight against a mutating coronavirus continues. In the past few weeks, there have been reports that a lot of people are experiencing prolonged symptoms and health issues post-recovery from Covid-19.
Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, consultant critical care medicine, and ICU director at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, has come across at least one female patient who suffered from a loss of taste and smells for around 10 months even after beating the disease. Jibhkate says, “Long Covid has become common among patients with severe viral load.” He suggests that people who have been diagnosed with Covid should get themselves checked for symptoms of Long Covid and not try to self-medicate.
Mid-day.com asked the specialist to answer some questions that are frequently asked about Long Covid:
What is Long Covid and what are the health issues linked with it?
Long Covid is when people continue to exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 for weeks or months beyond the initial illness. Heart failure, lung fibrosis, stroke, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pneumonia, heart attack, Guillain Barre syndrome, coronary artery disease, mucormycosis, constipation, diarrhea, sudden onset of diabetes, blood clots, chronic kidney disease leading to dialysis, skin and hair issues, stress, anxiety, depression, and seizures are some of the severe problems that need immediate attention. Till now it is not clear that exactly who is a Long Covid hauler. However, people over 50 having co-morbidities may experience it.
What are its symptoms and how long do they last?
Loss of smell and taste, persistent cough, bronchitis, breathing problems, chest tightness, and pain, sudden palpitations, digestive problems, muscle pain, sleep issues, diarrhea, nose and chest congestion, swelling of the heart, low pumping capacity, and arrhythmia that is abnormal heartbeat and fatigue. The symptoms generally last for around four to six weeks.
How does Long Covid come about?
A low response or a lack of response from the immune system, relapse or reinfection of the virus, inflammation of the immune system, deconditioning — which can be described as a change in physical function due to bed rest or inactivity — and even post-traumatic stress can lead to Long Covid.
How is Long Covid detected?
After recovering from Coronavirus, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and rhythm, lung, and breathing function, full blood count, liver and kidney function, muscle damage, electrolytes, inflammation level in the body, D-dimer, to check the presence of blood clots and even monitor your iron levels. These tests will help determine what is wrong with you.
Who can get affected by Long Covid?
Anyone irrespective of gender and age can be affected by Long Covid. But, people with existing co-morbidities are more prone to it.
Does Long Covid require hospitalisation?
Those who are seriously ill with mucormycosis, any heart problems, brain fog, or any lung condition may require hospital admission.
How can one manage this condition?
Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol in control. Do breathing exercises to enhance your lung health. Relax and get a good night’s sleep. Stay stress-free by doing yoga or meditation. Do low-impact exercises at home like walking, yoga, or aerobics. Eat a well-balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid junk, spicy, oily, and processed foods that take a toll on your immunity. Give up on smoking and alcohol.
How often do these patients need to be tested?
Patients can take regular tests every six months to monitor the functioning of their bodies.