Long Covid means road to recovery for Covid-19 victims is an arduous one

If you have recovered from Covid-19, here is some bad news – you may not be 100 per cent healthy.

The American Medical Association Centre for Health Equity estimates that up to 30 per cent of survivors could experience long Covid, even if they were not sick in the first place.

Covid-19 affects the lungs but can damage other organs, including the heart, kidneys, and the brain.

Long-term health effects may include breathing problems, heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke, and Guillain-Barre syndrome – a condition that causes temporary paralysis.

The United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that coronavirus survivors face twice the risk of developing dangerous blood clots that travel to their lungs, compared to people who were not infected, and double the chance of respiratory issues.

Health expert Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS said it was crucial that those who have recovered be wary of their condition as they could suffer from long Covid.

“Most do not seem to read enough about long Covid. Reinfection can cause it, or worsen it,” said Dr Amar, a consultant paediatrician and researcher.

“CDC’s data shows that one in five Covid-19 survivors aged between 18 and 64, and one in four survivors aged above 65, experience at least one ‘incident condition’ (persistent symptoms or organ dysfunction) that might be attributable to Covid-19.”

Among the conditions listed by the CDC are neurologic and mental health, kidney failure, cardiovascular, respiratory, blood clots and vascular, and musculoskeletal (bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues).

The most common incident conditions in both age groups were respiratory symptoms and musculoskeletal pain.

Asked if there was a recommended time frame to go for check-ups, Dr Amar said most studies suggested follow-up checks after six months.

“I suspect checking or screening between three and six months is good. Or earlier, if the patient exhibits symptoms, or is unwell.”

Studies suggest that among the recommended steps that should be taken a month after recovering from Covid-19 are, an IgG antibody test, complete blood count tests to measure the different types of blood cells to indicate how you coped with the Covid-19 infection, and glucose and cholesterol tests, as the virus is prone to causing inflammation and clotting.

Getting routine function tests is crucial if you have pre-existing conditions, such as Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or are prone to cardiac complications.

High-resolution computed tomography chest scans can highlight the level of lung involvement as viral infection could leave many dependent on external oxygenation and respiratory support.

It is recommended that this is done three to six months after recovery.

Patients who complain of chest pains as one of their symptoms of Covid-19, or who suffered from a moderate or severe infection, should take special precautions, and schedule heart imaging and cardiac screenings.

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