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Are you recovering from the side effects of COVID? Here is a list of things you can and cannot do

Did you know COVID side effects can last for months even after recovery?

Lata experienced ongoing health problems for months after they discharged her from the hospital. Her son Amit who had mild COVID symptoms initially was down in the dumps for roughly three weeks after testing negative. There were days when they would both be bed-bound and experience the most debilitating fatigue they ever had. To Lata, even brushing teeth or standing up to take a shower felt exhausting.

But Lata and Amit aren’t the only ones who reportedly underwent the long-haul COVID. 

Long COVID (as they are calling it) isn’t confined to a small group of people either, mind you. Research suggests that the number could be in millions! 

  • 1 in every 20 COVID survivors is likely to be affected.
  • Nearly 10% of affected individuals will be deemed as “long-haulers” by the end of the pandemic.

Scary, right? If you are one of these people, here’s everything you should know about post-COVID symptoms. We’ll cover:

  1. What is long COVID?
  2. What are potential long-term COVID side effects?
  3. How to recover if you have long-haul COVID symptoms?

What is long COVID?

Long-COVID is a condition wherein survivors of COVID experience new or ongoing COVID side-effects for four or more weeks after testing negative. You don’t have to necessarily have had initial COVID symptoms to develop related symptoms. Anyone who has been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is prone to it. 

While some experience fatigue or body pain, others may report shortness of breath and more severe side effects like lung or kidney damage. For Lata and Amit, the side effects kept coming and going in waves. It was frustrating as ever, and they were rendered completely unproductive during that time. 

Scientists and medical practitioners are still assessing what causes long COVID. So far, the underlying biology behind the condition is poorly understood. Hopefully, the coming months may shed some light. 

What are long-haul COVID side-effects?

Here is a list of long-COVID side-effects which people around the world have reported:

  • Respiratory issues such a shortness of breath, breathlessness, or difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty recalling or focusing on things (aka “brain fog”)
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Persistent cough and chest pain 
  • Tightness in chest or heart palpitations (pounding heart)
  • One and off fever and headache
  • Continued loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Feeling moody, anxious, and depressed
  • Body rashes or allergies
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Abnormal lung function or kidney damage

How to recover if you have COVID side effects? 

Most people have some after-effects of COVID and recover within a few weeks. Like Lata’s son Amit, whose side-effects lasted three weeks. 

However, there are others like Lata who continue to struggle with symptoms months after. So, what can be done about it? Is there a list of Dos and Don’ts that you can follow to recover faster and better? 

Well, medical professionals are still researching the best treatments to help people with COVID side effects. They suggest that you use your body as a guide to recovery, rest adequately, and eat a healthy diet. 

Here’s is a list of things you can and cannot do while recovering from long COVID:

For fatigue, breathlessness, and other respiratory problems

  • Make sure you get adequate sleep to avoid exhaustion.
  • If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, consider breathing exercises.
  • Take note of your energy levels and go on short walks accordingly. 
  • Don’t over-exert yourself if you experience fatigue or tiredness.
  • However, don’t avoid activities that make you breathless. Pace yourself and continue using your muscles so they don’t get weak. 

For mental health recovery

  • Be prepared for the worst and be kind to yourself.
  • Stay connected with your loved ones to avoid feeling isolated.
  • Indulge in activities that boost your mood. 
  • Have a daily routine and be active as much as possible.
  • Include physical movement to facilitate the release of endorphins

For memory or brain fog-like issues

  • Try to stay focused. Make note of things you need to remember.
  • Break down activities into steps so you don’t have to keep track of long, complicated situations.

For body or muscle pain

  • Don’t return to exercise immediately after recovery. Take things slowly.
  • Avoid physically demanding workouts when you do begin.
  • Consider doing flexibility exercises like stretching or yoga for controlled breathing.

Lata had toe swelling, or what is now being referred to as “COVID-19 toes.” It got so worse that she could barely put on shoes at one point. Doctors advised her to keep her legs elevated for up to 20 minutes several times a day. That helped significantly reduce the swelling. 

Important Preventive Measure: Get vaccinated as soon as you can to prevent post-COVID side effects. 

When to see a doctor

In case you are experiencing severe symptoms that refuse to get better, don’t hesitate to see a doctor immediately. This includes:

  • Severe or persistent chest pain
  • Chest pain accompanied by nausea, breathing difficulty, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness resulting from chest pain
  • Heart and circulatory problems that might lead to heart attack or stroke
  • Prolonged weakness
  • Feeling of confusion 
  • Changes in sight, hearing, or speech

Hang in there!

COVID-19 side-effects vary from one person to another. Some take longer to recover while others recover in two to four weeks. If you are recovering from long COVID, take steps to maintain your physical and mental well-being. Reach out to your GP if conditions persist. Most of all, hang in there. This too shall pass!

We wish you a speedy recovery! 

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