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Higher severity lengthens post-Covid recovery time in some patients, say doctors

Dr Kapil Zirpe, in charge of the neuro trauma intensive care unit and isolation facility at Ruby Hall, said that the problem is usually related to patients who have had moderate to severe form of Covid-19.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: October 20, 2020 8:50:20 am
india coronavirus latest updates, post Covid recovery symptoms, Pune covid patients, Pune coronavirus cases, Pune city newsDoctors also said that there are complications related to the heart, lung, intestines, brain and kidney due to Covid-19. [Express photo]

Patients of coronavirus infection (Covid-19) in the moderate to severe category are taking a longer time to recover. Complaints of post-Covid fatigue and anxiety are common among those who were in home quarantine or had mild symptoms, while patients who have had a longer hospital stay face other challenges like extended need for oxygen due to lung damage, and counselling.

Dr Kapil Zirpe, in charge of the neuro trauma intensive care unit and isolation facility at Ruby Hall, said that the problem is usually related to patients who have had moderate to severe form of Covid-19. “These patients have had a longer stay in the hospital, been sedated if they were on ventilation and also face loneliness as they were in isolation. Post discharge, they require oxygen support at home and it takes at least two to six months for them to recover. The good news is that with a healthy diet, plenty of rest, counselling and avoiding exertion, the recovered patient can be better managed,” said Dr Zirpe, who is a member of the Pune city Covid task force.

According to Dr Subhash Salunkhe, chairman of the state Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Technical Committee and one of the key members managing the pandemic in Pune, there is a distinct loss of vigour and energy among patients who have recovered from the disease. “Those who were in the ICU continue to face respiratory problems and shortness of breath. Those who have co-morbid conditions are also affected,” said Dr Salunkhe.

At B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, which conducts a post-Covid OPD, doctors say there is a great deal of weakness among recovered patients.

Dr Sanjay Gaikwad, head of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at B J Medical College, said they have seen at least 60-70 patients who have recovered. “We check their X-Rays after they test negative for Covid-19, conduct a six-minute walk test, and check oxygen saturation levels. Spirometry and other deep breathing exercises are advised,” said Dr Gaikwad.

Doctors also said that there are complications related to the heart, lung, intestines, brain and kidney due to Covid-19.

According to Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state Covid task force, there are systemic Covid-related issues or lung-related problems post Covid-19. “The commonest complaint is fatigue but now we are seeing an entire spectrum of the disease. Lung fibrosis is a cause of concern… the main elements now would be pulmonary rehabilitation, physiotherapy and mental health counselling. There is also a need for anti-clotting drugs and nutrition support is essential,” he said.

Dr Pradeep D’Costa, chief intensivist at KEM Hospital, said there are patients who have recovered from Covid-19 who may still require oxygenation. This is based on the severity of the disease and if the patients have had to undergo a complicated course of medication, steroids and others, said Dr D’Costa. “We are seeing patients with manifestations of neurological and psychiatric problems. After discharge, some are unable to walk properly or move well. The effect can be debilitating,” said Dr D’Costa.

Dr Manish Kolge, consulting physician at Rao Nursing Home, said there are several young patients who, after recovering from Covid-19, suffer weight loss and fatigue and are unable to do routine activities. “They are unhappy with their post-Covid recovery and hence get anxious,” said Dr Kolge.

Doctors advised that with proper post-Covid management, the recovery time is usually one to three months.

Dr Shivakumar Iyer, chief intensivist at Bharati Hospital, said guidelines have been prepared for managing post-Covid manifestations, most commonly the Covid fatigue syndrome. “There are a smaller number of patients with lung fibrosis, and patients who require home oxygen therapy, and we have beeen assuring the patients that fatigue and tiredness will go away with time,” he said.

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