UPDATED: May 12, 2021 13:23 IST
Just recovered from Covid-19? It may not be wise to let your guard down since an increasing number of people are continuing to experience symptoms after their initial recovery from the disease in the second wave.
These post-Covid health conditions or complications have come to be known as “long Covid” or “long-haul Covid”. In such cases, a patient continues to experience symptoms of the disease four weeks after initial recovery.
Some of the complications being witnessed in patients recovered from Covid-19 include the impact on the lungs, kidneys, heart, and cases of a black fungal infection, called mucormycosis.
Here is everything you need to know about possible complications that may arise post Covid-19 infection and what precautions one should take before resuming normal life:
When can we say that a Covid-19 patient is cured and can resume normal life?
Dr Syamasis Bandyopadhyay, Senior Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist, Director Medical Services, Apollo Hospitals, said if a Covid-19 patient has ILI (Influenza-like illness) symptoms, then within 10 days of onset of symptoms, he becomes non-infectious.
“After 17 days from the onset of symptoms, he can resume normal activities while maintaining Covid-appropriate behaviour. For SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) cases, the patient becomes non-infectious after 20 days and he/she can resume normal life depending on the extent of their lung damage and other issues,” Dr Syamasis Bandyopadhyay.
Why are some people seeing post-Covid complications?
Covid-19 is a viral illness that, unlike many other viral illnesses, has the potential to cause long-term sequelae involving multiple organs, especially the lungs.
Available data indicates that about a quarter of those with Covid-19 suffer from symptoms 45 weeks after testing positive, and about 1 in 10 experience symptoms after 12 weeks, Dr Abhishek Bansal of Diyos Hospital told IndiaToday.in
“While there is no conclusive evidence, people may experience post-Covid conditions due to persistence of the virus in some parts of the body that are sheltered from the immune system,” Dr Bansal said.
What complications may arise after I get cured of Covid-19?
Covid-19 is known to affect multiple organs and body systems, including heart and blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, skin, brain and nerves.
Some of the warning signs of lingering Covid conditions are continuous shortness of breath, chest pain, breathing trouble, the reappearance of fever, fatigue, painful joints or muscles and dizziness on standing, said Dr Syamasis Bandyopadhyay.
“This virus has the potential to directly involve lung cells, leading to lung fibrosis. They stimulate the fibroblasts, causing fibrosis of the lungs and that is a tripling problem. That is, you land up with a ‘triple lung’, leading to fatigue and you always pant for breath,” he said.
What has the Health Ministry recommended as post-Covid management protocol?
In its post-Covid management protocol, the Health Ministry says the first follow-up visit (physical/telephonic) for a recovered from Covid-19 patient should be within seven days after discharge.
“Subsequent treatment/follow-up visits maybe with the nearest qualified allopathic/AYUSH practitioner/medical facility of other systems of medicine. Poly-therapy (use of multiple medications) is to be avoided due to the potential for unknown drug-drug interaction, which may lead to Serious Adverse Events (SAE) or Adverse Effects (AE),” the protocol says.
If there is a persistent dry cough or sore throat, the Health Ministry recommends saline gargles (with turmeric and salt) and steam inhalation. Cough medication should be taken on the advice of a doctor.
What precautions should I take after recovering from Covid-19?
Dr Syamasis Bandyopadhyay said people with co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or renal failure should immediately go back to their ongoing/pre-Covid medication.
“Because of Covid-19, people are stopping their normal treatment. Just because you have Covid-19, it doesn’t mean your diabetes has got better, or your blood pressure has improved. Secondly, after recovering, one should consult a doctor and do some tests to see whether Covid-19 has had any impact on end organs like the heart, kidney, liver. He/she should get vaccinated 1-1.5 months after recovering from Covid-19,” he said.
Other precautions include: staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids, practising breathing exercises and meditation, following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, avoiding smoking and alcohol.
When can I resume work out, exercises after recovering?
One key concern of people after Covid-19 recovery is about the right time to resume workout sessions. “The ideal way is to start slow and do low-intensity exercises and perform any activity for 5-10 minutes a day. You can start with jogging or walking in the first week of post-Covid recovery. In the second week, you can double the timing and increase the pace,” said Dr Abhishek Bansal.
The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Sports Medicine Institute in New York recently published a set of guidelines for people to return safely to their workout regimen after recovered from Covid-19.
“Those dealing with respiratory symptoms like pneumonia, it is best to rest for a week or 10 days before resuming workout routine. Those suffering from chronic cardiac issues should take a break of 2-3 weeks before returning to any form of exercise regimen,” the guidelines suggest.