How Can Patients Battling ‘Long COVID’ Manage Their Lives Better?
The first human cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, subsequently named SARS-CoV-2 were first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019, as per WHO’s situation report. As we come close to completing a year since the outbreak of COVID-19, let’s understand the repercussions of this infection that have impacted the lives of 9.74 million Indians over the past 12 months and its impact, which may extend to not just a few weeks or months, but a year or more. This phenomenon is called ‘Long COVID’, which has had a debilitating effect on patients’ lives.
Across the globe so far, the focus has been on saving and enriching lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the infection’s long-term consequences are now gaining attention, and people continue to reel under its incapacitating impact.
While there is no textbook definition of ‘Long COVID’, patients who experience post-COVID symptoms lasting over six months are known to be suffering from this condition. These patients are not just those who have had a lengthy stay in the Intensive Care Unit, but also those who have had mild symptoms and may or may not have needed hospitalization.
The most common symptoms of ‘Long COVID’ include fatigue, breathlessness on the least amount of exertion, persistent cough, muscular & joint pain, drop, inaccuracy in hearing and sight, and persistent loss of smell and taste. Many patients with ‘Long COVID’ are also noted to have mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study (on 143 patients) conducted by the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS in Rome, Italy, which assessed post-COVID patients who came into the hospital’s OPD. Analysis revealed that of the patients who had recovered from COVID-19, 87.4% reported at least one symptom, nearly 2-3months post-recovery.