Those who have recovered from the virus should not let guard down as they could develop lung fibrosis, blood clotting
Even weeks after complete recovery, COVID-19 patients can experience new or recurring mild symptoms ranging from general fatigue, body ache, headache, joint pains, cough, depression, anxiety and difficulty in thinking or concentrating to severe breathlessness, chest pain and painful swelling of the limbs.
However, doctors warn that there can also be serious complications that can lead to re-admission even after full recovery. It includes lung fibrosis, delayed thromboembolic events (formation of clots in blood vessels) and bacterial and fungal infections.
Mohit Mathur, Principal Consultant of Critical Care in Max Hospital, Gurugram, said that most commonly they were seeing cases of lung fibrosis, which was likely to occur in those who had spent long time in Intensive Care Units on mechanical ventilator support.
“We are also witnessing cases of delayed thromboembolic events between three to six weeks of illness as COVID-19. This is being clinically manifested as sudden strokes. Apart from these two serious post-COVID symptoms, we also need to look out for secondary infections — bacterial and fungal,” said Dr. Mathur.
Heart attack risk
Amit Bhushan Sharma, Unit Head and Associate Director, Cardiology, Paras Hospitals, said that even those who didn’t have any pro-cardiac issues could develop heart complications after recovering from COVID-19.
“So it may not be related to pre-existence of any cardiac problem. This can be a new phenomenon. Since the rhythm of the heart is destroyed, there is a high risk of a heart attack. This can happen while being infected and also after COVID-19 recovery,” said Dr. Sharma.
Amitabh Malik, Chief, ENT Department, Paras Hospitals, said that black fungus, also known as mucormycosis, was affecting the lives in a far more serious way than the pandemic and the hospital was getting around 20-30 such cases in a week in COVID-recovered patients.
“Any patient, who had COVID in last 10-20 days, should keep a watch on any left or right side facial pain, excruciating headache, swelling in and around the eyes and brownish or blackish nasal discharge. Such patients should approach an ENT specialist,” said Dr. Malik.
Bela Sharma, Additional Director of Internal Medicine in Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram said black fungus mainly occurred in patients, who were diabetic with poor sugar control, on steroids for COVID and oxygen support. Haryana government has also declared black fungus as a notified disease.
“The patients who are well and at home after COVID and particularly those who required hospital admission for the disease must continue to take rest with good diet and hydration for some more time. They must not rush back to the same level of physical activity as earlier but take it up in a gradual manner,” suggested Reshma Tewari, Director of Critical Care in Artemis Hospitals.