By Dr Sachin D,
The country began to unlock at several places after a devastating second wave of COVID-19. People start rushing into the gyms and initiated strenuous exercises. However, intense physical activities, including strenuous exercises, are not advisable to the patients that have recently recovered from COVID-19 as it may start or worsen the post-COVID-19 symptoms.
COVID-19, during the initial phase of the first wave, was considered a disease that significantly affects the respiratory system. However, as the cases globally increased, there were reports of COVID-19 patients suffering from complications other than the respiratory system.
Interestingly, Patients experienced most of these complications after testing negative for COVID-19. It indicates that COVID-19 affects the organ during the active stage, and the effects are also extended weeks or months after cure. In several instances, the patients with severe COVID-19 had successfully treated in the active phase but lost their life due to post-COVID-19 complications.
Common post-COVID-19 complications include difficulty breathing, persistent fatigue and tiredness, anxiety and depression, chest pain, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and sleeping difficulty.
MANAGING POST-COVID-19 SYNDROME
It is necessary to take adequate rest to store the energy lost during the fight against the disease. It will help in reducing weakness and fatigue. A healthy diet helps in accelerating recovery. Ensure that the diet contains sufficient proteins that speed up repairing and healing. Drink adequate water to stay hydrated.
Do not initiate strenuous exercise and activities straight away just after the recovery. It results in further worsening the symptoms such as difficulty breathing and excessive stress on the respiratory system. Starting with simple exercise improves circulation and helps in detoxification.
‘’Long COVID-19 or post-COVID syndrome is the debilitating syndrome that haunts the COVID-19 survivors for weeks and months after the infection clears. Many patients who had encountered a moderate or severe disease (and few with the mild disease) can continue to suffer from lingering infection signs for a while and face problems in resuming routine life. The most common symptoms are fatigue and early exhaustion, insomnia, memory and concentration impairment (brain fog), mild breathlessness, dry cough, anxiety and headaches. The body gets exhausted during COVID-19, after which it needs sufficient time and adequate rest to recover back to normal (weeks to months). It happens because of inflammatory damage to various organs and reduced lung capacity in those with lung involvement. It takes a long time for your body to build its capacity back and hence needs adequate rest/sleep and hydration with proper diet, relaxation techniques and gradually- paced mild exercises.’’ Dr Sachin D, Manipal Hospital.
Undergoing pulmonary and cognitive rehabilitation also helps the patients in recovering from post-COVID-19 complications. The patient learns breathing techniques, exercises, and depression and anxiety management during rehabilitation.
IMPORTANCE OF SELF-OBSERVATION AFTER RECOVERING FROM COVID-19
The patients should monitor the vital parameters such as blood oxygen level and blood pressure for at least 3-4 months. They should also consult with the doctor if they have a persistent headache, chest pain, or difficulty in breathing. It is critical to monitor symptoms as it could be a sign of serious complications. Appropriate consultation and effective management help in preventing the additional healthcare cost and reduces the risk of death.
‘’People try to push themselves hard and strain their body immediately post-COVID-19 recovery that can drain their body and make it worse. A slow and graded paced mild exercises should be encouraged while giving adequate time for the body to regain its strength. Although long COVID-19 is debilitating, good care and therapeutic help with the early diagnosis can help people heal faster and alleviate symptoms.’’ Dr Sachin D, Manipal Hospital
Monitoring of post-COVId-19 symptoms through self-observation, adequate rest, healthy diet, and light exercise regimen helps COVID-19 patients to recover from the post-COVID-19 syndrome. The post-COVID-19 symptoms should be timely and effectively managed to avoid the progression of complications.
(The author is Consultant – Interventional Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Manipal Hospitals, Old Airport Road, Bengaluru. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)