Because it is a new virus, it is impossible to know what long-term effects will result from an SARS-CoV-2 infection. But the scientific community suggests possible consequences ranging from fatigue to brain damage after weeks or even months.
A person with Covid-19 can either suffer a serious illness that can lead to death or be infected but not show any symptoms. In both cases, the question remains – what sequels could the future bring?
Consequences of intensive care
Medical discharge is just the beginning of a long recovery process for people who have been hit particularly hard by the disease and have therefore gone through intensive care.
Once Covid-19 is passed, these patients may need physical therapy to raise their arms and legs again, sit unsupported, walk, or even speak and swallow.
Many patients who have remained infected with the new coronavirus over a long period of time have reported feeling fatigue, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating. Researchers are trying to establish whether they can be symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, a sequel associated, for example, with infection by the Epstein-Barr virus or Q fever, caused by a bacterium that often affects the respiratory system.
Studies indicate that about a third of people infected during the SARS outbreak in 2003 also reported feeling a reduced tolerance for exercise for several months after recovery, even though their lungs appeared to be healthy.
Damage to various organs
Difficulty breathing, coughing or a fast pulse may be indicative of tissue damage to various organs in patients recovered from Covid-19. Long-term problems in the lungs and heart are the most frequent, in some patients there has also been damage to the liver and skin.
It is not yet possible to determine unequivocally whether these damages are permanent. A group of doctors at the University Clinic of Internal Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria, saw improvements or even full recovery in 86 patients affected by injuries or fluid in the lungs. “There are some signs of reversible damage,” said Thomas Sonnweber, co-author of the study published on the ClinicalTrials.gov platform of the United States National Library of Medicine.
Other viral infections
A study published in the scientific journal The Lancet points as possible long-term side effects of Covid-19 the emergence of other viral infections, such as mononucleosis, measles and hepatitis B.
Symptoms identical to the senses during the illness
The same study lists a list of long-term complaints very similar to those experienced during the acute phase of the disease.
There are reports of those who suffered, even after recovering from the disease: extreme fatigue; muscle weakness; low fever; inability to concentrate; memory lapses; mood swings; difficulties in sleeping; headaches; needle-like pain in the arms and legs; diarrhea and vomiting; loss of taste and smell; sore throat and difficulty swallowing; reappearance of diabetes and hypertension; rash; shortness of breathe; chest pain and palpitations.
Patients recovered from Covid-19 can be victims of depression, anxiety, insomnia and post-traumatic stress. In older patients, researchers are still trying to determine whether Covid-19 can accelerate cognitive impairment in people with dementia.
There are thousands of studies on the new coronavirus, as well as on the sequelae it can cause. Not all have been submitted to the review and accreditation of other specialists to whom traditional articles published in scientific journals are submitted. If, on the one hand, they may not have the same level of reliability, on the other hand, the urgency to find solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic requires this type of ‘shortcut’ in the scientific investigation process. Unpublished discoveries can thus be evaluated by the wider scientific community and contribute to getting to know it better.
This is the case of the study carried out by more than 70 Brazilian researchers, indicates that the new coronavirus can affect the brain and cause the death of neurons, even in mild or asymptomatic patients, who have not required hospital treatment.
Published on the medRxiv scientific platform without prior evaluation, this study indicates that the virus can promote significant changes in the structure of the cortex, the brain region that is richest in neurons and responsible for complex functions such as memory, attention, consciousness and language.
According to the researchers, when the new coronavirus enters the brain, it attacks cells responsible for the metabolic processes, hindering the production of energy and nutrition of neurons and can consequently lead to the death of brain tissue.
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