Mumbai: Shortness of breath, joint pains, sleep disturbance and anxiety attacks are some of the common post-Covid problems that hospitalised Covid-19 patients have had to deal with in the year since the first case was detected in the city.
In many city hospitals with post-Covid clinics, a steady stream of patients keeps returning for periods ranging from three to six months. Not surprisingly then, the state budget on Monday listed plans for a post-Covid centre in each district.
“Post-Covid is very much a reality,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, an intensivist who is a member of the state task force on Covid. “People have been scarred physically as well psychologically. Some are unable to cope with the lingering effects of the disease or the loss of a family member,” he said.
Consider BMC’s jumbo hospital in BKC where 1,100 patients visited the post-Covid OPD between October and February. An analysis of the data of the 1,100 patients showed the commonest complaints were weakness, body ache and joint pains, but around 30% showed psychiatric issues.
BKC jumbo hospital dean Dr Rajesh Dere said, “Of the patients with psychiatric problems, nearly 10-15% had post-Covid psychosis. They feared contracting the disease again or dying from its complications.”
Clinical psychologist Gauri Raut, who is attached to L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, said some patients even showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and needed medication. “Not only is there is a fear of getting infected again, some who were in the ICUs keep recollecting images of seriously ill patients in the next bed.”
Doctors said isolation itself adds to the stress.
Raut, who has counselled post-Covid patients for over 10 months, said some had rage for getting it despite being careful.
Physical problems, too, weigh down recovery. Around 60% of BKC post-Covid clinic patients came with complaints of cold, cough, and nasal blockage.
Nearly 600 of these patients needed help with medication for diabetes or hypertension or both. “Covid is known to mess with sugar levels. It takes a while for the levels to normalise for many,” Dr Dere said.
In a third of Covid recoverees, the heart rate is above the normal range of 60 to 100 “for about a month after recovery”. Three of Dr Pandit’s patients were on oxygen support at home for three to six months.
The one positive sign is many who had extensive lung scarring have recovered. “Although it takes nine months or so to resolve, there is little or no scarring on the lungs,” he added.