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Surviving COVID-19

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*Survivors reveal how crippling illness left them breathless and weak with lingering coughs for weeks after recovery from novel coronavirus
*Virus harms brain, nervous system of half of severely ill patients, one-third of all cases causing symptoms such as stumbling, slurred speech, seizures
*Up to 70% of patients in intensive care suffer from physical, mental health problems such as fatigue, anxiety one year after discharge from hospital
*Having just one underlying health condition raises your risk of being admitted to intensive care or dying with coronavirus by almost 80%

It is quite heart warming that Nigeria has one of the highest survival rates of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world but the survivors are left with indelible scars.

The discovery by several bur recent studies is not surprising since other viral infections also leave survivors with challenges. For instance, survivors of Lassa fever are left with hearing problems for life.

So what does life look like with and after COVID-19?
Recent studies have shown among other things:
*Survivors reveal how crippling illness left them breathless and weak with lingering coughs for weeks after recovery
*Coronavirus harms brain and nervous system of half of severely ill patients and one-third of all cases causing symptoms such as stumbling, slurred speech and seizures
*Up to 70 per cent of patients in intensive care suffer from physical, mental health problems such as fatigue, anxiety one year after discharge from hospital
*Having just one underlying health condition raises risk of being admitted to intensive care or dying with coronavirus by almost 80 per cent

A study on patients with COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, found coronavirus harms the brain and nervous system of half of severely ill patients.

Such impacts, which appear in a third of patients overall, lead to symptoms including headaches, stumbling, slurred speech, nerve pain and seizures.

The study, the first to characterise the brain problems associated with coronavirus infection, suggests that these symptoms could indicate patients at a higher risk.

In the study, neurologist Bo Hu of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology and colleagues analysed 214 patients with COVID-19 from Wuhan, China, the city where the outbreak emerged, between mid-January and mid-February.

The patients were all treated in one of three dedicated special care centres in the university’s Union Hospital. The experts sorted neurological symptoms into one of three categories, the first of which was central nervous system manifestations — including dizziness, headache, impaired consciousness, acute cerebrovascular disease, ataxia and seizure.

The other categories were peripheral nervous system manifestations (taste impairment, smell impairment, vision impairment and nerve pain) and skeletal muscular injury manifestations.

Also, coronavirus sufferers in the United Kingdom (UK) have revealed how the crippling illness left them weak, breathless and coughing even after they had recovered.

According to the report first published by Daily Mail UK, more than 84,000 people have been officially diagnosed with the infection since Britain’s outbreak began in February – 10,612 of them have died but many more have recovered.

Getting over the virus takes more than just waiting for the infection to heal, however, and people emerging from their ordeals say it left them totally beaten.

Doctors say it is unclear how long it takes people to truly recover from COVID-19. The more serious someone’s illness is, the longer it takes, and those who end up in intensive care may be left with permanent damage to their lungs and liver.

Meanwhile, another study published in the Journal of Critical Care, scientists claim the majority of patients admitted to intensive care suffer long-term physical and mental health problems.

Seven in ten Intensive Care Unit (ICU) survivors end up with post intensive care syndrome, which can include fatigue, frailty, anxiety or difficulty holding a conversation.

The findings, based on 1,300 people, are the first from an ongoing five-year study across hospitals in the Netherlands.The study comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a surge in the number of people being treated in intensive care.

Researchers said their findings are likely to apply to critically ill COVID-19 patients, who can spend weeks in hospital battling the killer infection.

Also, another study has found having an underlying health condition raises the risk of being admitted to ICU or dying by almost 80 per cent.

The odds are even higher for those with two conditions, according to research of almost 1,600 hospital patients in China. Overall, 20 per cent of patients with any health condition ended up either in ICU, needing ventilation or dying compared to five per cent of healthy people.

Scientists identified cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the riskiest pre-existing conditions to have prior to catching the life-threatening coronavirus.

Half of the patients with COPD in this study were moved into intensive care or died. In comparison, the rate was a fifth for those with high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

The findings are the result of a global scientific effort to understand who are the most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19.
Writing in the European Respiratory Journal, the authors said: “Among laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, patients with any comorbidity yielded poorer clinical outcomes than those without. A greater number of comorbidities also correlated with poorer clinical outcomes.”

The patients with at least one comorbidity showed more symptoms than those who did not, which suggests the virus is attacking their system more rapidly as their body tries to fight back. Shortness of breath, nausea and abnormal chest X-rays were particularly more common than those who are typically healthy.


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