Noting how doctors like her were seeing the effects at the pulmonary level, Dr Aishwarya Vinoth, consultant pulmonologist at Rela Hospital, said it was very important to understand that COVID does not end once the acute phase passes. “The symptoms can persist for weeks or even months after COVID,” she said.
The aftermath of the infection can last for more than a year, with pulmonary alterations that could turn into pulmonary fibrosis, she added. “The most feared consequence at the pulmonary level is pulmonary fibrosis, which is found in five per cent of all post-COVID patients. This condition occurs when the virus enters the lungs, causes infection and inflames the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs with the delivery of the oxygen for the body,” explained the doctor.
The main cause for this was the lung inflammation caused by the infection, added experts. This can range from mild to serious and irreversible conditions. The disconcerting factor is that these symptoms can accompany patients even months after recovery.
Though breathlessness is a common symptom of COVID, Dr Jackin Moses R, pulmonologist at Dr Mehta’s Hospitals, said it was a misconception that breathlessness is common among elderly. He stressed on getting the issues of breathlessness for a long duration checked. “We should help our lungs by protecting it as much as possible. Some of the ways to do this are wearing masks when working in a polluted environment, vaccinating against the common respiratory pathogens such as influenza, pneumococcus and SARS CoV2. By protecting your lungs, you are aiding in its fight to keep you healthy,” noted Dr Moses.