Explained: What is Long Covid, and how can one tackle it?


A LARGE number of Covid patients who did not require hospitalisation are complaining about lingering post-recovery health issues including Covid-like symptoms of mild to moderate fever, bodyache, breathlessness, coughing, heaviness in the chest, chronic fatigue, joint pains, headache, brain fog, insomnia etc.

Moreover, people who have not taken either not take the first dose of vaccination or infected after the first dose, cannot be vaccinated at least for 6-8 weeks post recovery. What is Long Covid, and how does one deal with it? We explain how doctors are handling the problem.

How long can these symptoms last?

According to doctors, such symptoms post recovery can last from 4-12 weeks generally, or beyond in some cases. Sometimes a patient feels like he/she has gotten re-infected because of these symptoms. Such a condition is also called Post Covid syndrome or Long Covid. Experts advise them to be in touch with their physicians and remain active.

What leads to Long Covid?

According to doctors, the coronavirus is not only causing respiratory problems but several others too. It can affect the functioning of several other parts of the body, including lungs, liver, heart, nervous system, kidneys etc. People with co-morbidities are more vulnerable. The effect on these organs is different from person to person, depending upon their lifestyles (sedentary or active), their immune system and functioning of their organs. “Hence, several recovered persons are experiencing Long Covid which can last for three months or beyond. It takes time to repair these organs and till that time those who have recovered from Covid may experience the symptoms,” said Dr Ajay Bagga, former civil surgeon.

Does an active lifestyle help?

Definitely, said doctors. Doctors said that the number of people with Long Covid may increase manifold post the second wave. Doctors said vaccination can help minimise these symptoms but the dose can be administered only 6-8 weeks post Covid recovery.

To deal with Long Covid patients, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has suggested that the medical fraternity open multi-disciplinary centres where focus is on breathing exercises, short-long walks on intervals which will increase lung capacity and physical strength, respectively.

“The main purpose is to bring out the Covid recovered from sickness and put their attention on physical well-being because such patients are required to not think too much about their post-Covid symptoms,” said Dr A Kapur of Jalandhar.

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“Active lifestyle involves mild to moderate physical exercises, which will supply proper blood supply to every organ and such people will start gaining immunity and physical strength which had gone down during the Covid infection,” said Dr Paramjit Mann, president elect, Indian Medical Association, Punjab Chapter, 2022, adding that exercise, other than improving functioning of various organs, also has a “feel good” effect psychologically.

An inactive or sedentary lifestyle could lead to negative thoughts which is bad in Long Covid. Eating right (green vegetables, seasonal fruits and basic meals instead of having junk food, fried food etc.), exercising right, sleeping adequately must be followed, said doctors.

 

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