Do not let your guard down post COVID-19, say doctors
With one in four recovered patients turning up at hospitals with post COVID-19 infections, doctors say it is important that patients do not let their guard down even after recovery.
Doctors are seeing people reporting various symptoms ranging from recurrence of fever and cough to breathlessness due to fibrosis or scarring in the lungs, cardiac issues and stroke due to blood clotting.
While some patients are reporting psychological distress, others have minor issues that can be treated with just a little counselling, said doctors.
Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman of Manipal Hospitals, who is also part of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee, said apart from these symptoms, most are complaining about fatigue.
“We have seen nearly 25% of recovered patients coming back with complaints. We have also seen two patients, who developed a reinfection. They had recovered in July and had tested negative before discharge. But they came back recently with a RT-PCR positive report,” he said.
Advising patients to strictly follow their doctor’s advice post recovery, Dr. Ballal said it is important that they do not compromise on precautions such as mask wearing and maintaining social distancing.
“Oxygen saturation levels must be monitored regularly and CT scan of the lungs should be repeated for those who return with breathlessness. Those with comorbid conditions should take extra care,” he said.
Pulmonologist K.S. Satish, who is also part of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee, said every recovered patient can have one or the other post COVID-19 issue even up to 90 days. “Minor issues do not need any medication and can be treated through counselling. Those who return with mild lung issues can be treated just through pulmonary rehabilitation (physiotherapy). People are unnecessarily getting hysterical,” he said.
Stating that only around 10% of patients, who would have required ventilator support (during the first infection), are returning with fibrosis, Dr. Satish who is also the president of Karnataka Pulmonologists Association said: “That can also be treated over a period of time and people need not panic.”
V. Ravi, Senior Professor of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, also part of the State’s expert committee, said reinfections are rare and can occur only in those who have not mounted a proper immune response, especially antibody response.