According to Dr Vijayalakshmi B, senior consultant, infectious diseases, Kauvery Hospital, the recovery period is a crucial time for the patient’s health. While a percentage of discharged patients do experience pulmonary and respiratory issues following treatment, those without related issues do experience increased fatigue following treatment.
“Many patients undergo immense weakness and tiredness, which we call post-COVID asthenia syndrome. Some develop dislike for food, dizziness and restlessness. These conditions don’t have clear origins, and require a long recovery period that patients must adhere to,” she said.
Most of these issues arise due to the use of over-the-counter medication, especially steroid use for COVID-19 treatment, which Dr Vijayalakshmi states is only necessary for patients with oxygen deficiency issues. Those with pulmonary and respiratory issues will be guided by their healthcare providers.
During the recovery period, rest, diet and exercise are three crucial factors that must be taken into consideration by the patient, said Dr Krishnamoorthy, infectious disease expert at Apollo Hospitals. Recovery must occur in a phased and slow manner, increasing exercise and reducing sleep – some patients have even reported sleeping for 15 hours a day – over the weeks until fully functioning again.
“Nutrition is an important aspect of post-COVID care. There needs to be a high amount of proteins and legumes in the patient’s diet to help facilitate cell reproduction. There has to be intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and doctors can assist in any areas that need more focus based on individual diet restrictions,” he said.
Dr Krishnamoorthy stressed on the importance of mental well-being during this period, as feelings of isolation and fear can cause added strain on patients, with some even reporting sleeplessness due to stress.