It has been 10 days since you completed isolation after testing positive for the dreaded Covid-19 and are raring to get back to your ‘normal life’. Yet, you continue to suffer from lingering fatigue, irritability, and lethargy? There is a high probability you have post-Covid fatigue.
While for most people, Covid-19 has led to mild and brief symptoms, other patients have reported symptoms such as persistent fatigue, pain, and a lingering cough. UAE doctors have confirmed the phenomenon is as natural as day.
Dr Sandeep Pargi, a specialist in respiratory medicine at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, said post-Covid fatigue is natural and expected. “As millions of patients have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 virus, a vast number of individuals complain about continuing breathlessness and fatigue even months after the onset of the disease. This overwhelming phenomenon is also called post-Covid fatigue syndrome,” explained Dr Pargi.
“The vast majority who have Covid-19 recover completely within a few weeks. However, certain individuals - even the people who had mild versions of the disease — keep on encountering experience symptoms after their initial recovery,” said the doctor.
What is post-Covid fatigue syndrome?
Dr Mahshan Kalpaka Mohammed, a specialist pulmonologist at Burjeel Royal Hospital, Al Ain, said, “As with any viral infection, hampering the immune system, the expected outcome is fatiguing. Immunity is crucial in any infection, especially in Covid. As a result, post-Covid fatigue is prevalent, depending on the severity of the condition.”
According to Dr Mohammed, when an infection progresses from moderate to severe, the degree of post-infection healing worsens. “Post-Covid tiredness and recovery are also influenced by psychological stress,” he stated.
Dr Pargi said the syndrome occurs in patients due to body inflammation and brain stress. “This, in turn, leads to pro-inflammatory cytokines and other factors to be released in the body, including the brain,” he explained.
Some doctors have said post-Covid fatigue is a common complaint when they make follow-up appointments in the hospital’s outpatient department. Moreover, the syndrome is common among both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, including vaccinated ones.
Dr Pargi said the syndrome is found mainly in symptomatic patients. “In asymptomatic patients, it’s mainly due to anxiety, phobia and depression associated with Covid-19 infection,” he explained.
Dr Brijesh Bhardwaj, head of department and specialist internal medicine at the NMC Royal Hospital, DIP, Dubai, said, “The syndrome is common among both suffered and also those who have not yet contracted Covid. Some are also fatigued from using face masks for two years.”
He explained, “Since we’ve been using masks for so long, we are not getting exposure to sub-clinical infection and antigens. Hence, there is a lack of immunity against normal day to day viral infections. Moreover, as Covid pneumonia involves lungs, it affects the exercise tolerance and oxygenation.”
What are the symptoms of the syndrome?
The lungs are the most commonly affected organ in Covid-19. “Exertional dyspnoea, often known as inflammation, is a significant part of the illness process; post-Covid airway inflammatory cough is common,” said Dr Mohammed.
Common signs and symptoms of post-Covid fatigue are:
> Muscle weakness
> Sleep disturbances
> Loss of smell or taste
> Myalgia and muscular aches
> Headache or foggy brain
Who can feel the symptoms?
Older people, and people with severe medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering Covid-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection, said Dr Mohammed.
How to recover from post-Covid fatigue?
> Get back to normalcy slowly
> Take a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables.
> Be gentle on your gut, don’t consume junk food, avoid alcohol
> Stress management is crucial both during and after the sickness
> Take foods that are high in nutrients, as well as a multivitamin
> Exercising is essential. Patients should do slow cardiorespiratory workouts regularly
> Vitamin C, also known as ascorbyl acid, plays a vital role in immunity. Antioxidants are another critical component to look for
> Lung function is improved by increasing breath holding time. Breathing exercises and diaphragm strengthening in the elderly, as well as mild to severe cases, all play a part
What can be done to improve mental health after recovering from Covid?
> Meet the doctor post-Covid quarantine or discharge from hospital
> Get a post-Covid checkup done
> Get your queries answered by the doctor.
> Once you’re sure there is no post-Covid residual effect, it helps a lot mentally
> Keep yourself busy, don’t stay alone.
> Talk to your family and friends regarding your concerns
> If still not helping, seek doctors help, including a psychologist
> The problem is transient, and it should go
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