Global cases of COVID-19 might be trending down worldwide, but the impact of the novel coronavirus is far from over. COVID-19 is an acute disease that attacks the respiratory tract with many symptoms. From fever to coughing, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue, COVID-19 has several possible symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity from person to person, and there are many cases where people are infected but experience no symptoms. People who develop symptoms start feeling better around two to six weeks after the first symptoms appear.
As the world slowly moves into a post-pandemic era, we keep learning new facts about the contagious disease that shook the world. Some COVID-19 cases see patients suffering from health issues long after the typical timeframe to recover from the disease. Also called Long Covid, there is a possibility that COVID-19 can leave people dealing with long-term and often life-changing health issues.
COVID-19 is still a new disease, and scientists are still unsure about the complete picture of the effects it has months or years after the initial infection. COVID-19 can cause various long-term health issues in patients that can differ based on the severity of the initial infection and symptoms they suffered.
Most people who develop COVID-19 suffer from mild to moderate illness that improves without medical intervention. However, some people with mild or moderate symptoms from the illness have been observed to develop lasting symptoms that can be severe, even after they make a complete recovery from the initial infection. Some of the long-term health issues seen in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases include the following:
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations
- Issues with concentration
- Loss or deterioration of taste and smell
- Memory lapses
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
- Sudden mood changes
Patients have reported these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months after their body has completely eliminated the virus. Older people are more susceptible to developing these long-term health issues of COVID-19, but WHO has observed that a fifth of young people also reported such symptoms.
Around 10% to 15% of people who contract the disease develop severe symptoms, with 5% becoming critically ill. Severe COVID-19 cases require specialized care to help patients recover. People who suffer from severe COVID-19 cases may be more likely to develop the long-term health issues listed above.
In addition to these, patients suffering from severe COVID-19 cases may also develop long-lasting or permanent health conditions, including:
- Pulmonary fibrosis: A 2020 study1 found that people suffering from COVID-19 can suffer from lung damage that can cause long-term breathing issues.
- Cardiovascular issues: A 20202 review found that around 30% of people who needed hospitalization for COVID-19 have developed issues with their heart muscles, and researchers speculate that it can cause myocarditis, a heart condition that causes inflammation in cardiovascular muscles.
- Neurological issues: A study conducted in April 20203 found that people with severe COVID-19 symptoms are prone to suffer from neurological issues like nerve pain, impaired consciousness, and dizziness.
The medical community worldwide is still studying the duration these long-term health issues from COVID-19 can last.
Nurses must understand the importance of listening to patients who report symptoms similar to the long-term health issues created by COVID-19. Nurses are ideally positioned to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 better. They must value the experience of all patients reporting such issues after recovering from the initial disease and helping them manage their symptoms accordingly.
Expanding your knowledge base as a nurse will be critical in your role as a nurse to help patients suffering from COVID-19’s long-term health issues. Online nursing CEUs like the ones we offer at Fast CE For Less at https://fastceforless.com/ce-courses-for-nursing/ can help you expand your skills for nurse license renewal and understand how to better help patients with these symptoms.