Lingering symptoms may be the untold story for many recovered Covid-19 patients
By Alexi Cohan
Many recovered coronavirus patients can struggle with lingering fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain long after they have beaten the deadly virus, which worsens their quality of life, a recent study found.
“We know that the reason Covid can be so bad is the uncontrolled inflammation,” said Dr. Shira Doron, infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center.
Doron said there are many local patients who recover from coronavirus and experience prolonged shortness of breath, headaches, muscle aches or fatigue.
This is also true of recovered Covid-19 patients in Italy, 87% of whom reported at least one lingering coronavirus symptom after recovery, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The 143 participants of the study had been discharged from the hospital after recovering from coronavirus and showing negative test results, no fever and improved symptoms. The patients were assessed by a medical team about 60 days after the onset of their first COVID-19 symptom and only 18 of them, or 12.6%, reported they were completely symptom-free.
More than half of the participants, however, had three or more symptoms. A worsened quality of life was reported among 44% of patients, according to the study. Doron said, “At some point there’s not going to be anything you can do because it’s damage that’s been done.”
She said the lasting symptoms could go on to be chronic conditions and added that some patients in China even needed a lung transplant due to the damage that coronavirus left in its wake. “We know it’s not the virus itself that’s continuing to rage, it’s the out-of-control inflammation that the virus has set off,” said Doron.
Most people in the study, about 53%, reported fatigue and 43% reported shortness of breath. A high percentage of participants also experienced chest pain and joint pain, the study shows.
Doron said the lasting symptoms can be from the virus but also from the complications experienced during hospitalization. More than 72% of the patients in the study had pneumonia and 20% received some form of ventilation. “We need to keep working to get a better understanding of what the underlying cause is,” said Doron.
She added that blood clotting caused by the virus can make the prolonged symptoms worse. “There can be some degree of permanent damage depending on where those clots are,” she said. “We know it’s not the virus itself that’s continuing to rage, it’s the out-of-control inflammation that the virus has set off,” said Doron.
Credit: Boston Herald