Hospitals see many cases of long COVID

Common symptoms being reported include muscle weakness/fatigue, sleep problems and hair loss

Medical care facilities across the country are now offering “Rehabilitation programme” for COVID-survivors with the hospitals continuing to report cases of Long-COVID while India is registering a downward trend of new COVID cases.

Most common symptoms being reported include muscle weakness/fatigue, sleep problems and hair loss though hospitals are also seeing cases of COVID-19 related development of tuberculosis and fungal pneumonia and cases of increased heart rate especially among those between 30-65 years.

The rehabilitation programme includes physiotherapy, psychological counselling, pulmonologist consultation and lung function tests. Dr. Akshay Budhraja, Pulmonologist, Aakash Healthcare, said: “We are seeing issues with those over 30-years and aggravated complaints among the elderly.’’

Lower health status in Wuhan

A study published recently in medical journal Lancet “1-year outcomes in hospital survivors with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study’’, conducted among COVID survivors in Wuhan, the epicentre of the first coronavirus outbreak in China, found that a number of survivors continued to have lower health status a year after symptom onset.

“Survivors continued suffering from at least one post-COVID medical complication even a year after COVID. While most survivors returned to their original work and life, the baseline health status of some continued to be lower,’’ said the study which followed the cases of 1,276 patients admitted at the Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan over one year. All patients had been released between January 7 and May, 29, 2020, after recovery.

The Union Health Ministry said post-COVID sequelae is a matter of concern and that it has been tracking this since September last year. “The Ministry, understanding the issue, has prescribed a holistic approach which includes continued monitoring of health and use of Ayurveda to aid post-COVID recovery,’’ said an official.

G.S. Chabbra, director, Respiratory Medicine, QRG Hospital, Faridabad, said while admissions due to Long COVID have slowed down now, the hospital has been in constant touch with their patients via tele medicine and hospital app.

“After the second wave we did have patients with complaints of hair fall, episodes of breathlessness, joint and muscle pain which are typical symptoms of post-covid patients,’’ he said.

Neetu Jain, senior consultant -Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, PSRI Hospital, said the hospital is getting on an average 4-5 patients daily in OPD of post COVID sequelae.

High heart rate

“Reinfection of COVID cases are rare. We are getting 2-3 cases a month with post-COVID complications. This number is considerably lower than earlier and most come in with complaints about lack of energy, mild fever and shortness of breath. We are also getting people with high heart rate also,” said Dr. Neetu.

Several hospitals said they are continuing with designated COVID wards to safeguard other patients, while oxygen and staff strength are being augmented.

On the complication related to Long-COVID, the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) too has now urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments to prioritise and fund urgent research on the link between COVID-19 and dementia.

Neuroscientist and chair of the ADI’s medical and scientific advisory panel Alireza Atri, said there seems to be a clear link between “long-COVID” and dementia. “We are seeing this with my patients and we need to be worried about the ‘Trojan horse’ of dementia that long-COVID is leaving behind in our brains,’’ he said.

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