After-effects of Covid-19 may last for years, say doctors

However, studies being done around the world indicate that long Covid, which is now accepted as a reality, and Covid infection among the asymptomatic individuals, is likely to cause great harm. According to doctors involved in treating Covid patients, even after the infection recedes, it is not clear that the after-effects have vanished from the human body completely.
Representative image
Representative image

HYDERABAD: Mild Covid-19 infection or asymptomatic infection can be a misleading occurrence and the after-effects may last even for years, said doctors involved in treating Covid patients. Over 90 per cent of Covid cases are considered mild or asymptomatic and among many, the infection weans away without detection. Many spend a week or two with cough, mild fever, sore throat. and headache.

However, studies being done around the world indicate that long Covid, which is now accepted as a reality, and Covid infection among the asymptomatic individuals, is likely to cause great harm. According to doctors involved in treating Covid patients, even after the infection recedes, it is not clear that the after-effects have vanished from the human body completely.

Long Covid, with symptoms that last months or even years, occurs in some people even with mild infection, and even in those who were initially asymptomatic. This, they say, can cause serious damage to the heart, brain, and lungs. Dr. P Ranganadham, Senior Neurosurgeon at SLG Hospitals, pointed out that Covid infection has caused encephalitis among many individuals, but among certain patients, it has even triggered meningitis.

"Covid meningitis make up one per cent of all Covid complications, while it constitutes 10 per cent of neurological problems triggered by the novel coronavirus. People with comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, and even obesity, get adversely impacted and this is a cause of great concern." Highlighting how severity of the disease may vary from individual to individual, Dr Manoj Vasireddy, Consultant Neurologist at Amor Hospitals, said: "Estimates on the prevalence of long Covid cases are hugely variable. While some estimates suggest it is noticed in over two per cent infected cases to many times more, some of this variation may have to do with differences in the populations studied and how long Covid is defined.

"Severity of symptoms can also vary widely between people. While some people might be bothered by persistent cough, others have symptoms so severe that they might not return to work." According to Dr A. Preetham Reddy, Consultant Neurologist at Century Hospitals, Covid affecting brain and spinal cord in the form of meningitis or encephalitis is dangerous, and life-threatening, if not treated promptly. "Estimates of the prevalence of cognitive problems after mild Covid, also vary from individual to individual or region to region. A study found that nearly one per cent of infected people reported memory problems three to four months after illness; but another study found memory problems in almost 16 per cent at roughly the same time point," he said. Pointing out how Covid infection can impact your brain, Dr. Praveen Kumar Yada, Consultant Neurologist at KIMS Hospitals, said: "Some assessments found that among the people who had recovered from Covid infection had reductions in overall brain volume; and even had reductions in grey matter thickness in regions of the brain related to smell, irrespective of severity of infection, it was similar to 10 years of aging. Another serious complication associated with this ailment is that the tiny blood vessels in the brain are getting blocked due to the infection."

As per doctors, the best way to protect one from the long implications is to avoid Covid infection in the first place. Hence, wearing a well-fitting mask, mantaining social distance where possible, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces will remain the core mantra. For those who are already infected, it is important they continue to stay watchful, and visit a doctor when need arises.

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