Unfortunately, recovery and a negative coronavirus test result do not guarantee the same state of health as before the illness. Of course, a lot depends on how you got sick and on the initial state of the body. But in most cases, the body does not recover immediately, and some of the consequences after the coronavirus can remain with the patient for life. How long does it take to recover from COVID-19 and what are the most common complications after Covid-19?

What are the consequences after coronavirus for the lungs?

The most common symptom in coronavirus, as well as a complaint after a previous illness, is shortness of breath and difficulty in deep breathing. COVID-19 is not a simple respiratory infection. The coronavirus primarily causes inflammation of the respiratory organs. That is, the main effect of the disease is on the lungs, but besides this, the infection affects, to varying degrees, almost all organs and systems (1).

The disease is more difficult and takes longer, even in comparison with the severe form of the flu. For example, if flu is characterized by several days of high temperature, then several days slightly elevated, and then a period of recovery and full recovery begins, then the coronavirus is treated for several weeks, and the course of the disease is often unpredictable. It may take months of therapy to restore the lungs after an illness.

Lungs – the most vulnerable to Covid organ

The most common complication after COVID-19 is a pronounced change in the lungs after acute inflammation, even if the virus is no longer in the body and the patient has recovered. Such a consequence of the coronavirus is detected using tomography. In such cases, patients need additional oxygen, which they receive in rehabilitation centers or rent an oxygen concentrator and recover at home (2).

What happens if there is a complication after covid on the lungs? Scars form on healthy tissue, which prevents the supply of the required amount of oxygen and contributes to the appearance of excess carbon dioxide. Depending on the degree of damage to the lungs, the person experiences shortness of breath. Restoring the function of the respiratory system is a paramount task since fibrotic changes can cause the development of thrombosis, oxidative stress and further disruption of cellular respiration, damage to the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and many others.

With a large lesion area, the doctor selects a suitable drug treatment program, prescribes breathing exercises to stimulate the lungs and accelerate tissue regeneration, supporting the work of organs with additional oxygen if necessary. Often, the patient has also selected a variety of drugs to reduce intoxication, neutralize harmful free radicals, complexes of vitamins, polyphenols, and amino acids for complex restoration at the cellular level. Also, bacterial products are often used to maintain the correct biocenosis in the gastrointestinal tract, since beneficial bacteria die en masse when using antibiotics and it is impossible to restore immunity without them.

Other complications after Covid

What other complications can arise after COVID-19? In addition to the respiratory system, the virus affects the heart, blood vessels, and the central nervous system, especially those who have been seriously ill with the disease (3). Those who have been ill in a mild form may be disturbed by chronic fatigue, headaches, depression, weakness, loss of smell.

Often, patients who have had COVID-19 seek help from a neurologist and psychiatrist to get rid of anxiety, panic attacks, and acute insomnia. This is due to the effect of the virus on the central nervous system. Such consequences of the coronavirus can last for several months (1).

Severe complications can arise in two scenarios:

  1. The direct effect of the virus on a particular organ, tissue;
  2. The body’s defensive response to an infection, which doctors call a cytokine storm. Such a reaction causes severe inflammation, which damages organs and does not go away without leaving a trace, leaving foci of chronic inflammation that can bother the rest of your life.

Violations in the heart and blood vessels

Doctors associate this with hypercytokinemia, or cytokine storm, a potentially fatal reaction of the body, which triggers an uncontrolled activation of immune cells, which leads to the destruction of the tissues of the inflammatory focus. This reaction has been observed in some patients with coronavirus. In particular, inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) occurs, which knocks down electrical impulses, leads to arrhythmia, and disrupts blood circulation, causing shortness of breath (1).

Moreover, Covid-19 negatively affects the blood itself. Of the 184 coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care in the Netherlands, 38% had increased blood clotting, and almost a third of them had blood clots.

Kidney

Although the coronavirus primarily affects the lungs, in some patients the infection has spread to the kidneys. According to a sample study in China, 27% of 85 patients admitted to Wuhan hospitals with coronavirus had kidney problems. Another study found that 59% of nearly 200 patients hospitalized in Hubei and Sichuan provinces had protein in their urine, indicating infection, and 44% had blood, indicating severe kidney damage that was initially inflammatory (4).

Musculoskeletal system

The virus can have a direct effect even on the musculoskeletal system, and it does not arise from the fact that a person lies for a long time with an illness. According to doctors, do not underestimate this infection, because it can affect organs in a completely unexpected and wide range (4).

Brain

Scientists have not yet established exactly how the coronavirus affects the brain, but a third of the patients studied after suffering from Covid-19 showed neurological symptoms, including dizziness, headache, and cognitive impairment. So far, scientists are only wondering what exactly caused these symptoms. However, existing theories focus on how the virus affects neurons – nerve cells. The loss of taste and smell, and inflammatory processes (in this way, our immune system reacts to the virus), and the lack of oxygen, which some patients felt, is also mentioned (5).

Although symptoms tend to resolve over time, some may persist. According to doctors, the restoration of cognitive functions in those who have had coronavirus strongly depends on age, comorbidity (that is, the coexistence of two or more diseases or disorders in a patient), and the severity of the course of the disease itself.It is pointed out that the virus can affect the brain of even those patients who have had a fairly mild illness. And according to University of Cambridge professor Ed Bullmore, we already have enough reason to believe that SARS-CoV-2 causes a “neurotoxic disease” that leads to “a kind of change in the mental state of the patient.” (6).

How to identify the consequences after coronavirus

Not all patients need to go for a full examination of the body to identify what complications after covid have remained and whether they remain at all. But some people after COVID-19 really need rehabilitation measures to eliminate the consequences (7). When do you need to seek help after you have had a coronavirus?

First of all, these are poor health, deterioration in the quality of life, certain complaints that prevent them from returning to normal activities. Then it is necessary to contact a therapist if the reason for feeling unwell is not clear or go to a specialist in a narrow field with a specific complaint. The doctor must determine the direction of the study, identify the cause of the disease, and take measures for rehabilitation.

How to deal with post-Covid complications?

Rehabilitation of patients with coronavirus should begin at the stage of hospitalization and usually continues for at least 6-8 weeks after discharge from the hospital, but the duration depends on the severity of the disease (8).

The patient is helped to recover by a whole team of specialists in various fields: rehabilitation medicine; physical therapy; speech and language therapy; psychology and psychiatry, etc. Also, as we mentioned above the patient is prescribed a variety of biological medicine drugs and dietary supplements. For example, they help to withdraw toxins using the well-known zeolite Zeostar®, neutralize harmful free radicals, and cure inflammation with complexes of vitamins, polyphenols, and amino acids such as Neotosil® and Asta-Omega 3®, for holistic recovery at the cellular level. Also widely used is Multi Em ferment®, which contains specially selected bacteria that restore the balance of the microbiome.

Today, most doctors in the world say that rehabilitation after coronavirus disease is necessary for everyone – both those who suffered in mild form and those who were seriously ill!

Rehabilitation with quality supplements, laundry and quality nutrition, physical activity, and psychological support will result in rapid recovery of the respiratory system, strengthening the immune and cardiovascular systems, an influx of strength and vitality, increased activity and tone, and a full return to normal life.

Dr. Oksana Klymenko M.D., PhD, 
SNHS Dip. (Holistic Nutrition), Medical Doctor, Researcher in the fields 
of molecular physiology and pathophysiology, 
molecular biology, genetics, cell biology

References

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  2. Bazdyrev E, Rusina P, Panova M, Novikov F, Grishagin I, Nebolsin V. Lung Fibrosis after COVID-19: Treatment Prospects. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Aug 17;14(8):807. doi: 10.3390/ph14080807. PMID: 34451904; PMCID: PMC8398080.
  3. Tirelli U, Taibi R, Chirumbolo S. Post COVID syndrome: a new challenge for medicine. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2021 Jun;25(12):4422-4425. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202106_26154. PMID: 34227079.
  4. Oronsky B, Larson C, Hammond TC, Oronsky A, Kesari S, Lybeck M, Reid TR. A Review of Persistent Post-COVID Syndrome (PPCS). Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2021 Feb 20:1–9. doi: 10.1007/s12016-021-08848-3. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33609255; PMCID: PMC7896544.
  5. Nuzzo D, Cambula G, Bacile I, Rizzo M, Galia M, Mangiapane P, Picone P, Giacomazza D, Scalisi L. Long-Term Brain Disorders in Post Covid-19 Neurological Syndrome (PCNS) Patient. Brain Sci. 2021 Apr 2;11(4):454. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11040454. PMID: 33918426; PMCID: PMC8066611.
  6. Hotopf M, Bullmore E, O’Connor RC, Holmes EA. The scope of mental health research during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Br J Psychiatry. 2020 Oct;217(4):540-542. doi: 10.1192/bjp.2020.125. PMID: 32493516; PMCID: PMC7330278
  7. Salamanna F, Veronesi F, Martini L, Landini MP, Fini M. Post-COVID-19 Syndrome: The Persistent Symptoms at the Post-viral Stage of the Disease. A Systematic Review of the Current Data. Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 May 4;8:653516. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.653516. PMID: 34017846; PMCID: PMC8129035.
  8. Demeco A, Marotta N, Barletta M, Pino I, Marinaro C, Petraroli A, Moggio L, Ammendolia A. Rehabilitation of patients post-COVID-19 infection: a literature review. J Int Med Res. 2020 Aug;48(8):300060520948382. doi: 10.1177/0300060520948382. PMID: 32840156; PMCID: PMC7450453.

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