A majority of the people infected with the COVID-19 virus are making a complete recovery. However, there has also been an increasing number of those who are suffering from lasting effects weeks later. These lasting effects, that go beyond 4 weeks of the initial infection, are also known as “long haulers”, and are becoming part of a post-COVID-19 condition for many.
Older people are more likely to suffer from this post-COVID-19 condition, and however, although less common, it does not exclude the younger, relatively healthier population exempted from these effects.
More commonly seen symptoms include; fever, shortness of breath, cough, aches and pains, brain fog, anxiety or depression, and general weakness and deterioration of overall health.
The virus primarily attacks the lungs and causes breathing issues. However, it can also attack the rest of the vital organs in the body as well, such as;
Brain: Given that brain damage is more often than not- irreversible, this long-term side effect is very grave indeed. COVID-19 can result in seizures, strokes- even in younger people. It can also increase the risks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Heart: Tests conducted after the patients had fully recovered showed damage to the heart muscles. This could easily lead to increased risks of future complications like heart failure.
Lungs: The lungs probably take the worst of the impact that can leave the air sacs in the lungs with lasting damages. This could result in chronic breathing issues.
The virus has also been reported to affect moods and cause increased anxiety and depression.
We consulted medical professionals to explain some of these long-term effects of COVID-19;
Fatigue and Shortness of Breath
“Fatigue and shortness of breath are common long-term lingering side effects of COVID-19, as the lungs are severely affected due to the virus and take a long time to recover fully. Heart diseases and weak kidneys are also some common long-term effects of covid-19 that can grow serious if not handled well.”
Isaac Roberston, fitness trainer turned entrepreneur and Co-Founder of fitness blog; TotalShape
Viral Fatigue Syndrome and Severe Exhaustion
“The COVID-19 pandemic is fast approaching two years of its existence. Many people have died and others have recovered from very serious illness. Most of the recoveries have been complete but a significant number of people have developed long-term issues collectively known as long Covid. At the most benign end of the spectrum is a form of post viral fatigue syndrome with severe exhaustion. This needs to be managed in the same way as other post viral fatigue syndromes with graduated exercise, healthy living and psychological support.” (Dr. Laurence Gerlis)
Affect on the Lungs and Liver
“However other patients have been left with more serious conditions affecting their organs especially the lungs and the liver. Shortness of breath on exercise is a common complaint among previously fit and healthy people who have developed Covid. Specialist clinics are being set up worldwide to deal with long Covid and this seems likely to be an issue which will be with us for some time to come particularly as Covid is still well into a fourth wave.
“Research has been conducted using steroids, antivirals and monoclonal antibodies to see if any of these medications which have been helpful during the acute phase of Covid may benefit those with long-term sequelae.”
Dr. Laurence Gerlis, Chief Executive Officer and Lead Clinician SameDayDoctor Holdings LLP
Breathing and Pulmonary Issues
“Since the Coronavirus attacks our lungs, the long-term effects of the disease are mostly associated with breathing and other pulmonary issues. In many cases, the virus is permanently damaging a part of the lungs, especially in elderlies. Other than that, common signs and symptoms that linger over time include fatigue, joint pain, dizziness, concentration, etc.”
Erica Tan, Co-founder of Best in Singapore
Muscle Pains, Brain Fog, Distorted Sense of Smell and Taste
“Many people are recovering from COVID-19 within 2-3 weeks without reporting any lingering health problems. But at the same time, a few people are experiencing long-term effects even after being fully recovered. People with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, etc. are more likely to go through the long-term effects of COVID-19.
“The reason behind these side effects is that coronavirus can leave effects on the lungs, heart, liver, nervous system, kidneys, and other organs. The long-term side effects include fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, chest pain, heart inflammation, rapid heartbeat, distorted sense of smell and taste, intermittent fever, depression, brain fog and headaches, which can vary from person to person.
“It is uncertain to tell for how long these effects will last, however, people should not ignore these symptoms. Any such side effect that interferes with one’s ability to live a normal life should consult the doctor immediately.”
Clara Lawson, MD USAHemp.com
There is a lot yet unknown about this novel CoronaVirus and its long-term effect and impact on the human body and mind. Research is still ongoing, with researchers recommending doctors to closely monitor their patients for lasting effects after recovery.