For those who have contracted COVID-19, the road to recovery can be like looking down the barrel. Not only do you have to deal with fatigue, breathlessness and other physical effects of the disease, but also live with the psychological impact of it. According to a study published in The Lancet, even patients who have had mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 are likely to grapple with cognitive changes in the aftermath.
Emerging pieces of evidence do point out that those who recover from COVID-19 may face several long-term issues including shortness of breath, fatigue, headache and confusion. While a COVID-19 patient usually recovers in 2 to 3 weeks, studies have pointed out that people may suffer from kidney, lungs, and heart ailments post-recovery as well.
Other possible long-term impacts of COVID-19 include neurological conditions and mental health issues as research shows that the disease can also attack the brain and central nervous system. While the data is still limited and non-conclusive, it is still strongly advised to regularly monitor your symptoms post-recovery to look for any warning signs. There are ways you need to take care of yourself after testing negative for COVID-19.
Do not bounce back to your previous life as soon as you get back home or test negative for the disease. Give yourself some time to slowly adjust to the old routine, taking one day at a time. Remember, you have just fought a ravaging illness and it is better to get into your old activities gradually, rather than just diving straight in. To gradually get back your memory and concentration levels on track, invest some time daily in relaxing tasks, games and exercises to revamp your brain. The key is taking it gradually, one thing at a time.
Whether it is a nagging headache or a bout of breathlessness, it is important to pay attention to any warning signs that your body is not doing all right. Always inform your doctor if any such issues arise post-recovery. If you have any chronic illness and have comorbid conditions, a person of senior age group, take regular medication, it is strongly advised to monitor your symptoms like, checking blood pressure, sugar levels and consult your healthcare provider if the drug dosage needs revision. If you are taking multiple medications, you must consult your physician before making any changes.
While contracting COVID-19 may have given your body a certain degree of immunity from the disease, emerging studies have suggested that it is most likely temporary. Hence, continue wearing face masks in public places and practice social distancing, wash your hands if you are at home, use sanitisers if outside. As you are on a road to recovery, it is important to prioritise the most important tasks and leave everything else. Preserve your energy as much as possible and postpone unnecessary tasks for a later date. Understand that you do need proper care and rest to feel like yourself again.
Diminished cognitive abilities like lack of concentration, memory recall and recognition issues and brain fog are likely to show up. These difficulties may go away within weeks or months of you starting your recovery but for some people, they can last for a longer time. These difficulties can have an impact on your relationships, daily activities and your professional life as you get back to it, so you and your family should take them seriously.
Pace yourself while slowing down. Restlessness in times like these is understandable but you cannot rush your mind and body back into order, especially in the aftermath of a disease like COVID-19. Get into your old activities gradually, and if it feels too overwhelming, then take time off to recover or talk to a specialist.
The writer is a gerontologist and a public health specialist.