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The consequences of long-COVID and post-COVID

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Muniba Usman
Muniba Usmanhttps://scientiamag.org
Muniba Usman is a high school teacher and teaching trainer by profession. She has a BS (HONS) in Microbiology and a diploma in Textile and Fashion design. She has a strong passion for research, arts, reading and writing. She has written many scientific articles and fiction stories for children.

COVID-19, also known as Novel Coronavirus is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory system caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. First identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019, this virus rapidly spread across the globe resulting in mortality rate on a massive scale. It was declared a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020.

The symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe cases, commonly starts with the onset of high grade fever, followed by shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, extreme body aches, fatigue, chest congestion and cough.

The world has suffered a significant blow due to COVID-19 including the impacts of severity level on global health, social interaction, and economies. COVID-19 led to a surge in social distancing which confined everyone in their domestic zones, shifting the whole manual system to online and remote work disrupting supply chains, in-land and international travel, and distancing.

Long COVID-19 or Post-COVID

Long COVID is also known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), a condition characterized by people in which they continue to experience prolonged symptoms even after the virus is no longer detectable in their bodies.

This condition affects anyone regardless of age, severity of prior COVID infection or vaccine administration. Its symptoms develop usually after the initial infection which might last for two months or over.

Symptoms of long-COVID

The symptomatology of infection is similar to the original infection but from case to case the severity varies. It is notable that over 200 different symptoms have been reported that affected the overall functioning of the body.

The symptoms of Long-COVID are not only related to the respiratory tract but it has symptoms associated with the nervous system and other vital organs. It is more of a syndrome based on its diversified, new, returning, or ongoing symptoms of multiple organs which last for four weeks or even more after the initial COVID infection. In some reported cases post-COVID lasted months or years and caused disabilities.

Some most common symptoms of post-COVID-19 are:

  • High-grade, low grade or continuous fever
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Fatigue 
  • Recurrent coughing
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Sleep problems
  • Neurological symptoms including difficulty thinking, memory loss and lack of concentration
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Tickling , pins and needles feeling
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Continuous pain in muscles and joints
  • Cardiac symptoms including chest pain, heaviness, rapid pounding of heartbeat
  • Digestive symptoms including stomach pain, acid reflux and diarrhea
  • Blood clots causing pulmonary embolism
  • Onset of allergies related to respiratory tract and nasal passages
  • Disturbance in menstrual cycle
  • Multi organ impairment or permanent failure including kidneys, liver, pancreas, bones and skin.

Numbers affected

According to the studies, almost 10-20% cases have been reported to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 might experience relapses of the disease as a long COVID across the globe. The exact number of living cases for this form is uncertain as many cases do not get proper documentation.

Impacts of long COVID on different organs
Impact of long COVID on different organs. Source: Nature

According to the recent statistical evidences, at least 65 million people around the world are suffering from long COVID, based on a conservative estimated incidence of 10% of the infected individuals and there are more than 651 million documented COVID-19 cases worldwide; this number is likely much higher due to many undocumented cases. The incidence is estimated at 10–30% of non-hospitalized cases, 50–70% of hospitalized cases and 10–12% of vaccinated cases.

Protection from long-COVID

Protection from this disease means to shield yourself and others from COVID-19 infection. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a number of simple but proven measures to get rid of this illness.

  • Get regular vaccination and boosters of COVID-19
  • Wear masks
  • Wash or sanitize hands regularly
  • Keep your premises clean and well ventilated

Recovery

Recovery for this condition varies from case to case. Some symptoms can improve quickly and others take quite longer to get recovered. The anomalous behavior of Coronavirus suggests that it has no generalized affect rather from person to person this virus has had varying impacts. It devastated many healthy bodies yet embarked new life in chronic patients.

Pathophysiology

Ever since the emergence of this deadly illness, it has caused the ripples of research in the field of biomedical sciences, pathology, virology, genetics, pharmacology and drug designing. Biomedical researchers have made significant progress in identifying various pathophysiological changes and the associated risk factors in the characterization of this disease and studies are still in progress to know the root causes of the prolonged impact of this illness even after vaccination regardless of the age, health condition or gender.

The unanimous view, so far, is the auto-immunity, endothelial dysfunction, viral persistence, immune dysregulation and coagulation activation are some of the baseline pathophysiological mechanisms involved in the hauling of COVID-19.

The studies have revealed that post-COVID-19 can manifest whatever the severity of the first COVID-19 illness, the underlying pathophysiology of this long delay is still enigmatic and anomalous in general population.

References

  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-
    effects/index.html#:~:text=As%20a%20result%20of%20these,have%20not%20
    had%20COVID%2D19.
  • https://duckduckgo.com/?q=COVID+19&t=chromentp&atb=v370-
    7&ia=coronavirus
  • https://www.who.int/europe/news-room/fact-sheets/item/post-covid-19-
    condition
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-
    depth/coronavirus-long-term-effects/art-20490351
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/covid-19/long-term-effects-of-covid-19-long-
    covid/
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41579-022-00846-2

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