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What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?
27 Jan' 21

What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?

 
Most people who get COVID-19 usually recover within 2–6 weeks, but some are not experiencing lasting symptoms. Others with severe COVID-19 may develop complications; require rehabilitation after a hospital stay, or sometimes even both.
What we know about the long-term effects
Because COVID-19 is still a new disease, scientists are still unsure about the effects months or years after the initial illness. Researchers have theorized that the virus responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), may cause similar effects to other coronaviruses, such as those that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
According to a 2020 study, around 30% of people who recovered from severe SARS or MERS had long-term lung abnormalities. A 2009 study found that 40% of people who survived SARS still experienced chronic fatigue about 3.5 years later, on average.
But while SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are caused by viruses from the same family, there are key differences among them, as the 2020 study highlights. Research into the impact of COVID-19 is ongoing.
People with mild or moderate COVID-19 often go on to report:
  1. Extreme fatigue
  2. Muscle weakness
  3. A low-grade fever
  4. Trouble concentrating
  5. Headaches
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Vomiting
  8. Loss of taste and smell
  9. Sore throat
  10. Difficulties swallowing
  11. Skin rashes
  12. Shortness of breath
  13. Chest pain
These symptoms may last for weeks or months after the body has cleared the virus.
In more severe cases Around 10–15% of people who develop COVID-19 experience severe symptoms and approximately 5% become critically ill. People with severe symptoms can also experience long COVID.
The lungs: An August 2020 study found that people with severe COVID-19 are often discharged with signs of pulmonary fibrosis, a type of lung damage. In some people, it can cause long-term breathing difficulties.
The heart: According to a June 2020 review, 20–30% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have signs that the illness has affected their heart muscle. The researchers speculate that in some people, COVID-19 may also cause myocarditis, inflammation of this muscle.
People who spend time in the hospital and require mechanical ventilation may also experience other difficulties. A recent study lists the following complications of ventilator treatment:
  1. Lacerated lips, tongue, or throat
  2. Injured vocal cords
  3. Secondary infection
  4. Hypoxia
  5. Hypotension
  6. Heart rhythm problems

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