20 Things to Know After You Have Recovered From Covid-19

Can you meet your loved ones who have recovered after a battle with the Coronavirus? Or what exactly does one need to be declared symptom-free and more, a doctor answers all your burning questions about Covid-19 recovery.

Every day we learn new things about the Coronavirus and till then, every day is a battle. For those who have managed to defeat the virus and their loved ones, the victory comes at a price. "The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world hard, with patients succumbing to the infection, developing complications like organ damage, and having a prolonged stay in the ICU before making a complete recovery. A study conducted in Italy showed an overwhelming 87.4 per cent of patients, who recovered from Covid-19, reported persistence of at least one symptom - particularly fatigue and Dyspnoea (laboured breathing); this was reported even after two months of being discharged from the hospital!" says Dr Md. Shakeel, Head-Emergency & Trauma, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital. So, here are his suggestions of things you need to keep in mind if you or someone you know has recently recovered and want to stay safe:

20 Things to Know After You Have Recovered From Covid-19

Understand the Post-Covid Syndrome

Dr Shakeel says, "Now that the disease has been in the country for over five months and we understand it slightly better, we need to start looking at post-COVID rehabilitation, which has become a must, especially after having dozens of patients returning to the Emergency Room with post-COVID symptoms. These long and short term impact of Covid-19 is called ‘Post COVID Syndrome’."

This means, after the acute phase of Covid-19 is over, patients return to the hospitals with symptoms such as lethargy, body aches and itchy throats even four to six weeks later. Patients are also seen to have some psychological impact from the infection, leading anxiety and depression. It is of utmost importance to monitor such cases, and a proper post-discharge rehabilitation plan is put in place, to monitor the patient’s health, so timely intervention could be done.

Factors that can make Post-Covid Syndrome likelier...

"The extent of post-Covid distress would likely depend on the extent and impact of the infection the patient suffered. Other factors such as smoking history, advanced age and comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, renal disorders also come into the picture, which further reduces the immune response of patients."

Does gender play a role in recovery?

"Although men and women report the same post-Covid issues, however, the incidence of Post-Covid Syndrome or distress is seen more amongst males than females."

Checklist for Covid-recovery

 Daily check of oxygen saturation, it should be maintained at >94% on room air.  Watch out for respiratory symptoms i.e. persistence or worsening of symptoms like cough and breathlessness.  Persistent rise of body temperature above 100F.  Watch for signs of lethargy, drowsiness, and altered sensorium.

 Regular monitoring of blood sugar in known diabetic patients is needed. Covid infection (as any other infection) alters blood sugar levels of the body. Strict monitoring once in 3 days and regular consultation with your doctor is required.  Regular blood pressure monitoring for known hypertensive patients is required to avoid accelerated hypertension-related complications. Weekly blood pressure monitoring in case of controlled hypertension, or more frequently in case of abnormal readings is required.  Follow up consultation with your doctor within 7 days of discharge.

 Blood investigations like CBC, CRP at first follow up, and subsequent follow-ups, if advised by your physician.  Repeat CT scan of the chest after 3 months to look the extent of Lung recovery post the Covid-19 infection.

WATCH OUT! If you skip these checks...

 Patients may go into ‘Cytokine Storm’ - Immune cells flood and attack the Lungs they should actually be protecting!  Blood vessels could leak, or the blood starts clotting.  Blood pressure could plummet and organs could start to fail.

 Secondary complications are highly common in post-Covid infections like Pulmonary Fibrosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Renal Failure, Liver Dysfunction, Coagulopathy (excessive bleeding or clotting), Acute Stroke, and Myocardial Infarction.

Speaking from experience...

Dr Shakeel shares a few case-studies of patients who had recovered from the Covid-19 infections but ran into complications in the absence of not following the above mentioned checklists.

 "A middle-aged man, post-Covid discharge, returned to us with complaints of pain and swelling in his left leg. He was diagnosed to have Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – a condition causing clots in the venous circulation of the legs, despite being on blood thinners! This is a known complication of COVID infection and needs to be addressed in a timely manner."

 "An elderly patient, known to have Hypertension and Diabetes, returned to us one month after being treated for Covid-19 infection, with complaints of breathlessness and progressive cough. CT scan of his chest revealed Pulmonary Fibrosis. The patient had to be put on long-term oxygen support due to poor lung compliance and is now doing much better."

 "We also had a young patient return to the Emergency Department just a day after being discharged after completing their Covid treatment, with sudden onset of agitation and restlessness, causing high blood pressure. The patient was found to be in acute psychosis, which is a very known complication of post-viral illness."

So, even if you or your loved-ones have recovered from the virus, it is best to keep your guards up with timely check-up and vigilance.