LONG TERM COMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19
COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease that was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and on March 13, 2020, in Kenya. It spreads rapidly, with a current prevalence of 759 million confirmed cases and over 759 million deaths globally.(Post COVID-19 Condition (Long COVID), n.d.)
Symptoms of COVID-19, may range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms include; fever, cough, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue. Mild but less common symptoms include sore throat, headache, diarrhea, aches and pain, red eyes and a skin rash. Severe complications include; dyspnea, loss of speech, confusion and chest pain. (Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions | CDC, n.d.)
The average incubation period ranges from 5-6 days with a maximum of 14 days.
The short and long term effects of COVID-19 in the body is seldom acknowledged. Several studies have shown a possible short and long term effects that need to be studied further. COVID-19 infects the body by binding to the ACE-2 receptors located in various tissues and body organs. The ACE-2 receptors in variably distributed in the body, with the respiratory, cardiovascular and GIT having highest expression. The expression is however sparse in the endocrine glands.
There exist a variable presentation of long and short term complications. The long term complications, also called Long COVID, Post COVID, Long Haul COVID, Post-Acute sequalae of SARS-COV-2 Infection (PASC), Chronic COVID by various individuals and WHO.
These complications may run for weeks, months and years in individuals who are infected with COVID-19 or those with a history of COVID-19 infection. Individuals not vaccinated against COVID-19, have an increased risk of developing Long COVID-19 complications compared to the vaccinated ones. This complications may also occur in individuals who had not been tested to have COVID-19 but was infected but asymptomatic. (Post COVID-19 Condition (Long COVID), n.d.)
The long term effects of COVID-19 can be detrimental if left unmanaged. There exist no test to be used in the diagnosis of Chronic COVID-19, however it is based on the history of the patient based on COVID-19 exposure. (Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions | CDC, n.d.)
The symptoms of long COVID-19, are varied and may last from weeks, months or even years post infection. The symptoms can go away and relapse later.
The symptoms of Post COVID-19 include
v Fatigue (tiredness)
v Chest pain
v Brain fog (inability to think and concentrate)
v Sleep problems
v Light headedness
v Tingling sensations
v Change in smell and taste
v Stomach pains
v Muscle and joint pain
v Changes in menstrual cycle
Some of the above symptoms are similar to that of chronic fatigue syndrome. This effects affects various body organs and systems including; heart, pancreas, blood and brain as compared to non-COVID-19 patients.(Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions | CDC, n.d.)
Studies have shown that specific group of individuals are at a greater risk of Post COVID-19 effects as compared to the rest though the studies are not conclusive;
v Individuals who experienced more severe COVID-19 illness and were hospitalized and needed ICU
v Individuals who had underlying health conditions like diabetes prior to COVID-19
v Unvaccinated individuals
v Individuals that experienced Multi system inflammatory syndrome during COVID-19
v Health inequalities i.e. minority groups, disabilities and nature of work can also increase the risk of Post-COVID-19 infection.
The best way to protect yourself to prevent COVID-19 infections, by vaccination, maintaining social distance, hand washing among others
Kindly, if you experience any of the above symptoms, please seek medical care!!!
There is need for proper follow up of all COVID-19 patients
Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html
Post COVID-19 condition (Long COVID). (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.who.int/europe/news-room/fact-sheets/item/post-covid-19-condition
KENYATTA UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES