Long Covid symptoms for recovered patients can include all kinds of breathing problems, organ damage, cognitive issues, depression, anxiety, and now even hair loss is being touted.
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Combating Covid-19 is a little more complexed than just getting vaccinated, masking up, practicing physical distancing and washing/sanitising hands.
You may have followed SOPs but one little mistake could land you in enemy hands. It’s one thing to survive, but once you have, the effects still linger.
The long and winding road
Recovered Covid-19 patients who are still experiencing some symptoms may be something the World Health Organisation (WHO) refers to as post-Covid condition or “long Covid”.
The three common symptoms of long Covid include shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog), and fatigue.
There are however 200 other symptoms that have been reported in patients.
In Malaysia, a clinical study conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) shows that 66% of 1,004 Covid-19 patients from categories 4 and 5 who received treatment, were found to have suffered from long Covid.
Long Covid in this instance lasted up to 12 weeks or more after infection with patients citing fatigue, breathing difficulties during activity (exertional dyspnea), insomnia, cough, and anxiety as symptoms.
You can add hair loss to the long list of symptoms
A respiratory specialist in Bangkok has said hair loss is a new symptom found to be affecting people who have recovered from Covid-19.
Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a pulmonologist with Vichaiyut Hospital, reported that many patients began losing their hair two to three months after recovery.
People normally lose approximately 100 strands of hair daily, but after two to three months of recovery, they may lose up to 300 strands per day and this problem may last for six months.Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs via The Straits Times
However, he says the hair loss problem is not directly caused by Covid-19 but is the consequence of high fever, stress and anxiety.
Quality of life affected
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur (GKL) endocrinology, internal medicine and bariatric surgery specialist Dr Saiful B. Kassim chimed in to say that symptoms may be severe with a lot of patients reporting that they are unable to access health services, and are struggling to have their cases taken seriously to get treatment.
Many patients are unable to return to work or resume a normal social life. Many have also described how it affects their mental health.Dr Saiful B. Kassim via NST
He also says that after excluding serious complications or co-morbidities, and until the results of long-term follow-up studies are available, long Covid patients should be managed pragmatically and symptomatically with emphasis on holistic support, while avoiding over-investigation.
Will it get better?
According to Dr Saiful, patients can recover but not fully, especially if they suffered multiple organ failures during infection.
Experts believe that it may even take months for a Covid-19 patient’s lungs to recover.
One study shows that 60% of people who recover from Covid-19 have signs of heart inflammation. This occurs even in patients with no prior history of cardiac problems.
In addition, studies of recovered Covid-19 patients have reported:
- If the infection has damaged the kidneys, there is a risk of long-term kidney disease and the need for dialysis.
- If loss of smell or taste is a symptom, the problem will resolve in a couple of weeks.
- Patients who are hospitalised and treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) also seem to have a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The majority of people who have had this disease are only one year or less into their recovery. It will take longer to know and understand what is next for patients who suffer from long Covid.Dr Saiful B. Kassim via NST
Former advertising mad woman - turned mother to an amazing little girl born 3 months early - and now a returned writer. Also a textbook ambivert with no clue about today's pop music but a walking encyclopedia of music from the 80s and 90s.