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What Is Long COVID? Know Symptoms & How To Deal With Them

New Delhi: The term ‘Long COVID’ is being used and heard of both in the national and international media leading people to believe that it is something new and they have to guard themselves against it.

Well, Long COVID simply means the effects of COVID-19 that continue for 3-4 weeks or months beyond the initial illness. “To completely recover from covid, age factor, and post-covid care matters,” said Dr. Bhavik Patel, medical operations at Bhatia Hospital Mumbai was quoted as saying by The Indian Express (TIE).

Long COVID is not contagious. Its symptoms are caused by your body’s response to the virus continuing beyond the initial illness, added the doctor.

Who is vulnerable?

Older people, women, and those who had five or more symptoms in the first week of becoming ill with were more likely to develop Long COVID, researchers who analysed data from the  COVID Symptom Study found.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Long COVID include cough and feeling breathless as well as fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain, anxiety, and depression. Other symptoms affect many parts of the body including the heart such as palpitations or increased heartbeat, brain such as brain fog (not being able to think straight or focus), and the gut. These symptoms often limit daily activities.

Since  COVID-19 affects mostly the lungs, patients’ breathing capacity (lung capacity) decreases and it takes months to regain its actual capacity. So, post-COVID care is equally important for complete recovery, the report added, saying this is how the symptoms should be managed:

Fatigue and breathlessness

  • Pace yourself – plan what you’re going to do and don’t over-exert yourself.
  • Try to break tasks that feel difficult down into smaller chunks, and alternate easier and harder activities.
  • Consider the best time of the day to do certain activities based on your energy levels.
  • Frequent short rests are better than a few longer ones, so rest before you become exhausted.
  • Don’t stop doing things that make you feel breathless. If you stop using your muscles, they’ll get weaker, which can make you more breathless when you try to use them.
  • Try to gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. Try going for short walks or doing simple strength exercises and build up from there.
  • If you use a walking stick or a frame, lean forward on it when you feel breathless.
  • Boost your mood and stay on top of your mental health
  • Be kind to yourself during your recovery. Be prepared that some days will be worse than others
  • Connecting with other people can help you feel happier. Make sure to keep in touch with family and friends.
  • Having a daily routine can be good for your mood and sense of stability.
  • Stay active – continuing to move will help release endorphins and improve your mood.

Thinking or memory problems

  • Make notes to help you remember things – whether it’s in work meetings or medical appointments.
  • Try to reduce distractions.
  • It can help to make a clear plan before approaching any new or complicated problem or situation. Break it down into steps, and keep checking your plan as you follow it.

Joint or muscle pain

Flexibility exercises (like stretches, yoga) and strength exercises (like climbing stairs, lifting weights, and working with resistance bands) can be useful. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.