KUALA LUMPUR: For patients who have recovered from Covid-19, it may seem like the worst is over.
However, it is recommended that they continue to closely monitor their health and lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible to strengthen their immunity and prevent any further health complications that may arise post-Covid.
Depending on the severity of the infection, not all patients require hospitalisation.
For those who do, their discharge is at the doctor’s discretion. They can be discharged at least 10 days after their symptoms first appeared, and after 24 hours since their last fever or the use of fever-reducing medication.
Dr Nurul Yaqeen Mohd Esa, Consultant Respiratory, Sleep & 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 a heart attack.
“Based on their condition, we will suggest that the patient go for a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG) and cardiac enzyme test, infection parameters such as C-Reactive Protein and further investigations to rule out pulmonary embolisms such as D-dimer and a CT pulmonary angiogram scan,” she says.
Dr Nurul adds that patients will still have to adhere to strict SOPs as they can still contract the virus even during post recovery.
As such, they still need to wear a face mask when going outside and practise social distancing, because there is still the risk of re-infection three months post-Covid-19.
Vaccination is still required, because the natural immunity that their bodies built against Covid-19 will only last from three to six months.
Post-Covid-19 effects in patients
Dr Henning Loo Cheng Kien, Consultant Haematologist from SMCV shares that there is a possibility that patients can develop complications from Covid-19 including cardiovascular disease as well as pulmonary, renal, neurology or psychiatric conditions, and even more serious conditions such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) or autoimmune conditions.
“Patients might develop something called post-acute sequalae of SARS-COV2 infection (PASC) which persist 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, coughing, chest pain, depression or anxiety, fever, loss of smell or taste or dizziness while standing,” he explains.
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 post-Covid-19 period, one important thing to note is to make an active and healthy lifestyle a priority.
After a patient is discharged, they may also go through various states of recovery both physically and mentally – and this is where support from family or household members is important.
“Eating a balanced and healthy diet will nourish the body and regularly exercising to keep 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% recovered can fully resume their daily activities, but there are others who may require oxygen therapy to aid their breathing capabilities until they are fully recovered.
Family members and caregivers can provide support by helping with daily tasks such as feeding or even bathing post-Covid-19 patients, as well as monitoring the patient’s medication intake to ensure they are on track with their prescriptions.
If patients still have concerns pertaining to their post-Covid-19 health status, they should speak to their attending doctor who specialises in treating Covid-19 such as a lung specialist, infectious diseases specialist, and blood disorder specialist who can advise them on the next steps to take.
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