Exploring the After-Effects of Coronavirus Disease
Published On Jan 08, 2021, Updated On Apr 23, 2021
Mostly, people who have coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 recover entirely within a few weeks. But some, even the ones with mild symptoms of the disease continue to experience symptoms even after recovering. People sometimes describe themselves as ‘long haulers’ and the condition is referred to as long ‘COVID-19’ or post COVID-19 syndrome.
Elder people and those with serious medical conditions are more likely to experience long lasting COVID-19 symptoms as they have weaker immune systems. But this also goes for young or otherwise healthy people. Even they can feel unwell for weeks or months after the infection. Some common signs and symptoms that may last for long include:
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Some other long term signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Headache or muscle pain
- Loss of taste or smell
- Rash or hair loss
- Concentration or sleep problems, memory issues
Organ Damage Caused Due to COVID-19
Primarily, the novel coronavirus is seen to have impacted the lungs of the patient. But it does not mean that it does not affect any long-term health problem. If infected with COVID-19, the following organs may be affected the most:
- Heart: The imaging test of some patients who have recovered from COVID-19 (even with mild COVID-19 symptoms) have shown long-lasting damage to the heart muscle. This may make them more vulnerable by increasing the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the coming years.
- Lungs: The type of pneumonia often linked with the novel coronavirus can cause damage to the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can result in long-term breathing problems.
- Brain: COVID-19 can cause seizures, strokes, and other illnesses related to the brain such as confusion, etc. even in young people. The pandemic declared coronavirus can also cause temporary paralysis, known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. Also, the disease may increase the risk of the patient developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Blood Clots and Blood Vessel Problems
The after effects of COVID-19 also include making the blood cells clumped up to form clots. The heart damage caused due to COVID-19 is believed to develop from very small clots that block small blood vessels known as capillaries, present in the heart muscle. While large clots may often result in strokes and heart attacks, much of the damage caused due to COVID-19 is because of the small clots.
Not only heart, but other body parts including legs, kidneys, liver, etc. can also be affected due to blood clots. The after effects of COVID-19 include weakening of the blood vessels thereby causing them to leak. This contributes to long term impact on the kidneys and liver of the patient.
Issues with Mood and Fatigue
A person infected with COVID-19 may have to be treated in the ICU of a hospital as he/she may require ventilators to breathe. The experience of surviving for days in the hospital may lead to post-traumatic stress syndrome and the patient may also face anxiety and depression related issues.
Unknown Long-Term Effects of COVID-19
There is still a lot unknown about COVID-19 that affects people in the long term. But the researchers suggest that the doctors should closely monitor those who have had COVID-19 in order to witness how body organs are working after recovering from the disease.
Note that most COVID-19 patients are able to recover quickly. But there are certainly some long-lasting problems arising due to COVID-19 which makes it important to reduce the spread of the disease. To reduce the spread, you must take preventive measures such as wearing masks, avoiding huge gatherings, frequently washing hands, social distancing, etc.
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The virus is new and hence is difficult to predict long-term outcomes of COVID-19. For this, the scientists are looking at long-term effects witnessed in COVID-19 and related viruses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Many people who have recovered from SARS have developed chronic fatigue syndrome that deteriorates with mental or physical activity but does not improve with rest. The complex disorder may also be in case of COVID-19.
Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.