Ever since the pandemic took over the world with a storm last year, we all have been aware of the symptoms of COVID-19. But what about post-COVID? Do the symptoms completely disappear, or is there a possibility of experiencing some symptoms after recovery?
As it turns out, 76 percent of coronavirus patients have at least one ongoing symptom six months after initially becoming unwell, suggests a study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet.
COVID-19, the emerging infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in millions of deaths across the globe. Since it first surfaced in Wuhan, China, scientists have been trying to figure out the long-term consequences of the illness. Majority of which remains unclear until now. The study aims at describing the long-term consequences of COVID-19 in patients after hospital discharge and identify the potential risk factors.
According to the Wuhan-based study, more than three-quarters of COVID-19 patients reported at least one ongoing symptom. While 26 percent of the individuals involved in the study experienced sleep difficulties, and 23 percent experienced anxiety or depression, 63 percent were reported to suffer from fatigue and muscle weakness.
“Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections,” said Bin Cao, Professor at the Capital Medical University in Beijing, China.
For the study, the team involved 1,733 Covid-19 patients who had a median age of 57 years. Follow-up visits were done, and the median follow-up time was 186 days. All patients were interviewed face-to-face using questionnaires to evaluate their symptoms and health-related quality of life. They also underwent physical examinations, lab tests, and a six-minute walking test to gauge patients’ endurance levels. 390 patients had further tests, including an assessment of their lung function. In addition, 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection as part of another trial received a follow-up test.
According to the study, 41 percent of the 390 patients tested for lung function experienced reduced lung function. 56 percent of those with severe illness experienced a reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. For patients at severity scale, 4 (who required oxygen therapy) and those at scale 3 (who did not require oxygen therapy) the figures were 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
The findings also suggest that patients with more severe disease performed worse in the six-minute walking test. Researchers also found that 13 percent of the patients whose kidney function was normal while in the hospital had reduced kidney function in their follow-up.
Follow-up blood antibody tests from 94 patients after six months revealed that levels of neutralizing antibodies were 52.5 percent lower than at the height of infection. The authors say this raises concerns about the possibility of Covid-19 re-infection.
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