For those who have just recovered from COVID-19, it may seem like the worst is over – but medical experts have said otherwise.
Instead recovered COVID-19 patients must maintain proper care and a healthy lifestyle to strengthen their immunity and prevent any further health complications that may arise.
Dr Nurul Yaqeen Mohd Esa, a Respiratory, Sleep and Internal Medicine Physician from Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) shares that patients at the hospital are advised to return for an assessment two to three weeks post-discharge to make sure they have completely recovered.
“Upon follow up, if there are no symptoms, a test is usually not required, however, if the patient complains of shortness of breath or a non-resolving cough, then we will need to rule out whether the patient might be suffering from interstitial lung disease or organising pneumonia post COVID-19, pulmonary embolism, or heart attack,” she said in a media statement.
“Based on their condition, we will suggest that the patient go for chest X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG) tests and cardiac enzyme tests, infection parameters such as C-Reactive Protein and investigations to rule out pulmonary embolisms such as D-dimer and CT pulmonary angiogram scan,”
Dr Nurul adds that patients will still have to adhere to strict SOPs as they can still contract the virus again post recovery.
They will still need to wear masks and practice social distancing, because there was still a risk of re-infection three months post COVID-19.
Vaccination are still required, because the natural immunity that their bodies built against COVID-19 will only last for up to three to six months.
The after effects of COVID-19 in patients
Dr Henning Loo Cheng Kien, SMCV Haematologist consultant said that there was a possibility that patients can get complications from COVID-19 including cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, neurology or psychiatry, and even more serious conditions such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS) or autoimmune conditions.
“Patients might develop something called post-acute sequelae of SARS-COV2 infection (PASC) which persists four weeks after the initial infection. It is the lack of return to a usual state of health following acute COVID-19 illness, and can be new or recurrent symptoms including fatigue, difficulty in thinking or concentrating, difficulty in breathing, cough, chest pain, depression or anxiety, fever, loss of smell or taste or dizziness while standing,” he said.
Dr Henning recommends that patients be diligent in following up with their doctors through a multidisciplinary approach from the chest physician, rehabilitation physiotherapist and psychiatrist.
Providing support for recovered COVID-19 patients
While each patient may have a different rate of recovery and experience different symptoms in the period post COVID-19, one important thing to note for patients is to make an active and healthy lifestyle a priority.
After a patient is discharged, they will have to go through various states of recovery both physically and mentally – and this is where the support from family are important.
“Keeping a balanced and healthy diet will nourish the body and practicing regular exercise to keeping the body and mind active is important for recovery. Getting adequate sleep will strengthen one’s immunity, and bear in mind to manage stress accordingly as it can affect one’s overall health,” Dr Nurul adds.
Patients who are 100 percent recovered can fully resume their daily activities, but there are others who may require oxygen therapy to aid their breathing capabilities until they are recovered.
Family members and caregivers can provide their support by helping with daily tasks such as eating or even bathing, as well as monitor the patient’s medication intake to ensure they are on track with their prescription.
If patients still have concerns pertaining to their post COVID-19 health status, they should seek advice from their doctor.