Even though the pandemic ended, Covid-19 "continues" to be with us. Almost 2 years after its end, the long-term damage to health after infections by Covid-19 is becoming a burden not only for individuals, but also for health systems.

An emergency physician at one of the private clinics, Ilir Allkja, told "Monitor" that the number of patients for post-Covid-19 treatment has increased in the last 2 years. According to the assessments of doctor Ilir Allkja, the main long-term consequences for the health of patients affected by Covid-19 are felt in changes in breathing rhythm, in cardiological and neurological disorders.

"Changes in breathing rate. Pneumonia from Covid-19 can damage the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs which can lead to long-term breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, frequent, intermittent breathing (apnea), etc. In addition to pulmonary tissue, respiratory muscles are also damaged (proven cases) in pneumonia caused by Covid-19; those intercostals and the diaphragm.

Neurological disorders are encountered in the vast majority of people who have had pneumonia from Covid-19.

As a doctor I have known that viruses can affect the brain and its function, and neurologists have observed many, many such disorders. These disorders include difficulty concentrating and paying attention, memory impairment, and difficulty finding words are the most frequent complaints of the patients I see. Sleep disturbances and fatigue can further contribute to thinking problems, making daily life, work and activities more difficult.

Also, in many cases, the infection of Covid-19, in addition to the lungs, has also affected the heart, partially or all of the structures; pericardium, myocardium and endocardium. This infection has caused inflammation and permanent damage to the heart muscle. Such damages have also occurred in people who have had mild symptoms of the virus. The diagnosed consequences are arrhythmias, valvular dysfunctions, kinetic and hemodynamic changes", says doctor Allkja.

For the months of January-April 2023, according to the data of the Monitoring report of the Ministry of Health, hospitalizations of patients treated in cardiology increased by 6% compared to the same period of 2022.

Depression and anxiety also according to doctor Allkja have increased a lot since the start of the pandemic.

"A significant part of those affected by COVID-19 have suffered changes in their mental health. Symptoms of anxiety and depression have increased significantly since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in Albania. It is impossible to predict how long these consequences can last, but I appreciate that all symptoms, both physical and spiritual, should be treated", he affirms.

For the first 4 months of 2023, the highest number of hospitalizations is in psychiatric hospitals according to the data of the monitoring report of the Ministry of Health. In this period, the number of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals was 1,122 patients out of 749 patients admitted in the 4th month of 2022. Compared to years, the number of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals has increased by 50%.

Despite the fact that anxiety is not treated or treated by psychiatric hospitals, polyclinic doctors claim that the cases of patients suffering from anxiety during this period are on the rise compared to years.

Psychiatrist Arjan Rreli at the Community Mental Health Center No. 3 in Tirana earlier told Monitor that after the 2019 earthquake and the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an increasing trend of patients with signs of anxiety and depression.

Doctor Allkja also claims that among the cognitive symptoms that are not improving are those of general bodily disorders.

"Many patients with COVID-19 suffer from a variety of physical problems: chronic fatigue, general weakness, joint pain, muscle pain, weight gain and in some cases weight loss, loss of muscle mass, etc. Other effective treatments may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological therapy. For cognitive symptoms that are not improving, it is suggested that you work with your health care provider to find treatments and medications that can help," he emphasizes.

Worldwide, according to WHO data, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 from the beginning of the pandemic to mid-August 2023 reached 769,806,130 infections, including 6,955,497 deaths. Also, until August 20, 2023, according to the WHO, a total of 13,499,865,692 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered globally.

(Source: Monitor)

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