UAE COVID-19: Some patients report post-recovery complications

Complications include damage to multiple organs, blood clots, and other side effects requiring medical attention

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. A nurse wearing protective equipment enters the intensive care unit (ICU), amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A nurse wearing protective equipment enters the intensive care unit (ICU), amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

REUTERS/Christopher Pike
The post-Covid syndrome continues to haunt UAE residents, many of whom are facing long-term complications even with mild infection.

A Dubai-based frontline health worker who got infected and recovered in a week’s time, has been suffering from the side-effects for months. Similarly, a vaccinated doctor of a Covid-19 ward who was back at work after recovering from the infection, began feeling shooting pain in her hands and joints, which has been persistent for nearly two months now.

They are among a host of patients showing a ‘post-Covid-19 syndrome’, where symptoms persist for longer than a month and could lead to medical complications.

Speaking from experience, the affected doctor is urging community members not to take the symptoms lightly, even if they are mild or asymptomatic.

“During the infection, I had only minor symptoms. I tested negative for Covid-19 within a week. Life was normal other than pain in the heel, lower back and shoulders. After one month, I noticed severe pain in my right wrist. It was difficult to open a door or a bottle of water. Over the next three days, my hand got severely swollen with numbness in my arm. I went for a check-up and the doctors were shocked to see the MRI as the damage to the inner layer was more than expected. I was put in a plaster cast for one month, followed by hand physiotherapy till date.”

According to the diagnosis, the case is assumed as post-Covid-19 bone inflammation.

“I do not fit any textbook diagnosis. I have been healthy and athletic all my life. I don’t have any medical history or previous injuries. My doctor assumes it is my post-Covid bone inflammation. As we don’t have much evidence around the world, it is not easy to ascertain.”

Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre in a recent study observed it is possible that after contracting Covid-19, even if the symptoms are mild, the infection may lead to long-term health complications. The ‘post-Covid-19 syndrome’ may affect some senior citizens, people with chronic diseases, and even healthy individuals. Complications include damage to multiple organs, blood clots, and other complications that may require long-term medical attention.

Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, specialist pulmonologist and respiratory medicine at Medeor Hospital Dubai, said he has dealt with cases involving ‘post-Covid-19 syndrome’.

“Covid-19 patients usually recover in three or four weeks. However, we have seen a few cases where patients with mild symptoms took a long time to recover. There may be long-term health issues. The common post Covid-19 symptoms I have noticed include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dry cough, elevated heart rate, and hoarseness of voice,” he said.

Dr Sainalabdeen said timely follow-ups and discipline can help counter post-Covid-19 complications.

“For patients who had a good lifestyle – exercise, diet, normal BMI, and good sleep hygiene - these symptoms were less. Along with that, I noticed that those who had come for a follow-up after completing quarantine do better, and in those who come after two to three weeks of detecting Covid-19, the symptoms last longer.

“I request all patients to be in touch with their physician during the Covid-19 isolation period and come for follow-up after completing the quarantine too.”

Dr Rizwana Popatia, medical director, Amana Healthcare, part of Mubadala Health, also said ‘Covid long-haulers’ would require specialised care.

“Post-Covid 19 syndrome is real and a serious concern for patients as well as acute care providers due to prolonged hospitalisation. It’s important that these ‘long hauler’ patients receive specialised care to address respiratory, neurological and other after-effects of Covid-19, ideally in a multidisciplinary environment, with a team that has specific experience in post-Covid rehabilitation.”

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