The Untold Story of COVID-19: Long Covid
Ten months into the pandemic, we strive to fight the disease by digging deeper into the nature of the virus looking for more information. Till date, we have found that COVID19, a respiratory illness, is injurious to the lungs with recovery time from two to three weeks and the most vulnerable group was the elderlies and those having pre-existing ailments. We were under the impression that the effect of the disease was mild and short term with only a fraction or even fewer people falling severely ill.
As we moved further into the pandemic, doctors and experts voiced concern about the post-recovery symptoms faced by many people. One in twenty persons is bothered by the long-lasting COVID19 which the doctors have started calling the ‘Long Covid’.
Long Covid includes experiencing the Covid-19 symptoms as later as three to four months post-recovery. However, there is no precise medical definition of the term or definite symptoms. Every person facing Long Covid might have varying symptoms and experiences with commonly reported symptom crippling fatigue. Henceforth, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) released a report which suggests that long covid may not be a single syndrome but an amalgamation of up to four distinct syndromes.
Here’s a brief account of all the different aspects of the syndrome:
Post Recovery Symptoms:
This can be further studied as two broad group-
The group having respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throats.
The group having multi-system effects where many parts of the body were affected such as brain, gut and heart.
Prolonged Organ Damage:
The lingering effects of coronavirus on physical health is a growing concern. Patients earlier hospitalized for the treatment still have lung damage after weeks of being discharged. A recent study found that six weeks after leaving the hospital around half of the patients were still experiencing breathlessness, dropping to 39% at 12 weeks. Meanwhile, approximately a third of hospitalised patients sustained heart damage, but those with seemingly mild infections may also be affected.
A separate study of patients with relatively mild symptoms revealed that 78% of them showed abnormal structural changes to their hearts on an MRI scan. Further, ongoing problems with the liver and skin have also been reported.
Who is more prone to long Covid?
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has found out that it’s possible to foresee who might develop Long Covid based on the age, gender and other early signs and symptoms of the illness; the more varied symptoms that a person experiences in the initial stage, the more prone they’re to Long Covid.
by: Dikshita Choudhary
graphic by: Shrishti