After more than two years since the pandemic spread worldwide, it still does not seem that it will be over anytime soon. Even though vaccines and other remedies have been available for several months now, new mutations and symptoms are continuously being discovered by medical experts.
In recent months, reports about people suffering from prolonged effects of the Covid-19 virus have surfaced. These studies show that about 1 out of every eight previously tested positive patients will most likely develop symptoms over time. In fact, according to researchers, more than 20% of patients have experienced either a new symptom or an increase in severity of old symptoms within three months to half a year after they initially got infected.
Long-Haul Covid In A Nutshell
Long-haul Covid-19 also called the post-Covid syndrome, generally refers to health issues that arise after a couple of weeks or a few months following the patient’s recovery. Though the effects vary among individuals, researchers have identified frequently occurring symptoms such as sleeping or breathing problems, muscle or joint pain, complications in the digestive system, nausea, palpitations, and fatigue.
Aside from physiological concerns, there were also several symptoms related to brain functions, including confusion, memory problems, and difficulty in focusing. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have also been brought up.
While these may not seem as severe or as threatening compared to the other symptoms of Covid-19, they can seriously damage the patients’ quality of life. For example, simple chores like taking out the trash will tire them out to the point that they would have to take sleep for a couple of hours afterward or feel lethargic for days at a time.
Moreover, difficulty in concentrating, staying alert, or retaining information can severely affect their performance and productivity at work, which puts them at risk of losing their jobs. Some have even found it very challenging to keep on performing basic activities like doing groceries, walking around the neighborhood, or taking care of their kids.
At present, there are varying data on how long the symptoms of post-Covid syndrome will last in each patient. There have been reports of quick recoveries after one or two months, but other patients took a much longer time before they got over the syndrome. Because of this, researchers are recommending routine assessments on previous patients in order to check their current condition and to see if they are experiencing new or recurring symptoms.
What Causes Long-Haul Covid
Several factors have been identified by experts as potential reasons for the post-Covid syndrome, though researchers have yet to reach a final conclusion. One possible factor is organ damage from severe Covid-related illness, particularly in the kidneys, brain, or heart. The immune system could also be compromised because of the effects of the virus on the body.
Another possible cause is the actual management of severe Covid illnesses, which involves hospitalization and even admission to the Intensive Care Unit. This experience could result in post-traumatic stress or extreme weakness on the side of the patient.
Medical practitioners have also observed that long-haul Covid tends to occur more often in women as well as in younger people. However, patients aged 65 or older have a higher probability of experiencing neurological problems as well as mental health issues like anxiety or mood swings.
Other people who are susceptible to the post-Covid syndrome are the patients who have previously been hospitalized due to the virus, those who have a pre-existing condition, or patients who had complications in their organs or tissues while battling the virus. Nevertheless, patients who only experienced mild to no symptoms can still develop long-haul Covid.
How Long-Haul Covid Is Diagnosed And Treated
Post-Covid syndrome can be difficult to identify and treat because the symptoms appear differently in each person. Aside from this, there is currently no diagnostic test that can identify the syndrome, and any of the symptoms can also look like a health concern that is separate from Covid-19. Some symptoms, such as confusion or fatigue, are difficult to evaluate as well.
If you feel that you are suffering from any of the long-haul symptoms, it is best to consult a healthcare professional who can recommend the best long haul COVID treatment for your condition. Before going for a consultation, make a list of all the symptoms that you are experiencing and share this with your physician to help him with your diagnosis.
Currently, healthcare specialists are advised to treat each symptom as it appears. Physical symptoms such as problems related to the lungs, heart, or digestive system can be treated with medication along with complementary tests or treatments.
For example, if the patient is experiencing shortness of breath, the doctor will most likely conduct tests to determine the health condition of his lungs. Or if the patient is complaining of heart-related complications, his physician may require him to use a heart monitor.
On the other hand, symptoms related to brain function such as confusion or memory problems are treated separately. The attending physician may recommend progressive treatments like cognitive rehabilitation where the patient will be immersed in activities that will help improve concentration or memory retention.