COVID Long Haulers is a term which is used to refer to people who recover from the illness and are tested negative for COVID virus, but their symptoms continue to persist even after that. These symptoms can persist up to a few weeks to a few months. It has been observed that there are two categories of COVID Long Haulers. People who suffer a permanent organ damage due to COVID fall under the First Category. The most commonly involved organs in this scenario are lungs, heart, liver, kidney and brain. Patients in this category are usually given a long treatment depending upon the severity of the damage. Many patients, especially those who are ventilated or those who have suffered from pneumonia, develop fibrosis in their lungs and are given long-term steroids, long-term anti-fibrotic drugs or sometimes even discharged with long-term oxygen.
The Second Category is even more important, because these are those patients who actually suffered from just mild or moderate disease, but still their symptoms are not going away entirely and they still have not been able to reach their pre-COVID status. The most commonly reported symptoms in this category are fatigue, exhaustion, body pains, headaches and shortness of breath. Some complaint about being distracted from work, having a decreased appetite and having foggy memory or having memory lapses.
Although data on second category patients is still limited and not very accessible and accurate, but some US-based studies suggest that around 50% to 75% of COVID-19 patients experience one or the other type of post-COVID problems. Primarily, the first category patients experience more post-COVID problems. Additionally, it is more common in people over 50 years of age, women, and people with more than two co-morbidities are more at risk.
If you are experiencing such problems, there are certain steps that can be taken to get relief. For first category patients, the treatment has to be more organ specific, and might require steroids or oxygen or physiotherapy as per the need of the patient. For second category patients, symptomatic treatment is required; medicines are to be given as per the problems and symptoms. People should take a good diet and stay hydrated. Regular consumption of multivitamins, vitamin-C, vitamin-D and Zinc is advised.
Patients should also have a reassurance that once they have faced and recovered from the virus, post-COVID illnesses will also eventually be treated, it just takes time and patience. It is commonly observed that post-treatment illness continues to remain in patients even after weeks in the case of strong viruses such as SARS-Cov. People should not feel irritated by the persistent symptoms and should give their body time to heal. It is important have faith in the treatment and believe in getting healthier soon.
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