Are you a Covid-19 survivor, but still feel fatigued and have not recovered fully? You may be experiencing what is known as “Long Covid”. The symptoms may not be life-threatening, but can persist for months and impact daily life, experts say.
While most patients who were affected with SARS-CoV — the virus behind the deadly coronavirus — and recovered, may do fine, some are likely to face symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety and depression, according to the US National Institutes of Health.
“Patients post Covid on the recovery stage can have multiple symptoms which includes weakness, myalgia (muscle pain), joint pain, breathlessness, cough, headache, and anxiety. Some of these symptoms are due to persistent respiratory dysfunction during the recovery phase of Covid infection and breathlessness is due to residual lung damage,” Dr Praveen Gupta, Director and Head, Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.
For those past the middle age, the condition seems to be more critical.
“Covid survivors, especially after middle age, develop breathlessness and easy fatigue on exertion. Lung functions are compromised. Some would always continue to have reduced lung function in the form of breathlessness on exertion as fibrosis is seen following Covid. The degree of fibrosis in each case will decide the sequelae (a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury),” said Dr Ravindra Gupta, Sr Consultant, Internal Medicine at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram.
The symptoms per se are not life-threatening once you recover from the disease, but can affect quality of life, the health experts said, adding however, that it is still too early to say how long the post-Covid symptoms could continue.
According to a large global study of the emerging “Long Covid Syndrome”, reported in January, nearly half of more than 3,700 self-described Covid “Long Haulers” in 56 countries could not work full time six months after unexpectedly developing prolonged symptoms of Covid-19.
Another study led by the University of Washington in the US, reported in February that about one in three patients who survived Covid continue to complain months later of symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell or taste and brain fog.
In April first week, about 1.1 million Britons reported having long Covid symptoms, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.
“These symptoms are usually short-lasting and resolve with appropriate medication in a few months. These symptoms are not life-threatening,” Gupta said.
The condition may not be widespread in India.
“Majority of Covid infections are self-limiting and do not have any long term consequences. In a few cases, anosmia (loss of ability to detect smells) and malaise remains and might persist for long duration. But no major post-Covid complications are reported,” Dr Harshal R. Salve, Associate Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, told IANS.
“Major studies are undergoing to assess long-term impacts of Covid and the vaccines against it,” he added.