One thing to remember as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations hit record numbers: Not everyone recovers fully or, alternately, flat-out dies. Some people live—but have symptoms that may never go away, their lives completely ruined. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, this could be true for up to ⅓ of patients—whether they had severe symptoms or not. A new study published this week in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine centers on hospitalized COVID survivors, revealing that many of them are experiencing hardship months after being released from the hospitals—with many of them struggling to return to “normal.” Read on to hear more about this disturbing development, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Those Affected Felt “New or Worsening Difficulty Completing Activities of Daily Living”
Dr. Vineet Chopra of the University of Michigan Health System led a team of researchers following 1648 individuals who were hospitalized with the virus. Of them, they focused on 488 Covid-19 patients who were treated and released from the hospital between March 16 and July 1, and available for a follow-up 60-day postdischarge telephone survey. Of them, a whopping one-third reported they were still experiencing health complications — including cough, persistent loss of taste or smell, or other new or worsening health conditions related to their infection. 58 of them reported “new or worsening difficulty completing activities of daily living,” while of the 195 patients who were employed before hospitalization, 78 could not return to work due to “ongoing health issues or job loss.” Of the 117 patients who did resume employment, 30 reported reduced hours or modified duties due to health reasons.
As for mental health, nearly half of all patients (238 of 488) reported being emotionally affected by their health, with 28 seeking care for mental health after discharge. Many also reported their finances being negatively impacted, with 179 patients reporting at least a mild financial impact from their hospitalization, 47 reporting use of most or all of their savings, and 35 rationing food, heat, housing, or medications due to cost.
“For most patients who survived, ongoing morbidity, including the inability to return to normal activities, physical and emotional symptoms, and financial loss, was common,” the team reported. “These data confirm that the toll of Covid-19 extends well beyond hospitalization,” the study concluded.
The researchers hope their findings will inspire focus on providing more support for survivors.
“Collectively, these findings suggest that better models to support COVID-19 survivors are necessary.”
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Dr. Fauci Warns of “Post-COVID Syndrome”
On the same day reports of the study came out, Dr. Fauci spoke at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference about “what we called a post-COVID 19 syndrome, which in variable percentages that we’re working out right now, what percentage that is of people who have symptomatic disease be at symptoms that don’t necessarily require hospitalization or symptoms that actually drive people to requiring hospitalizations when they recover,” he said. “Virologically a certain percentage sometimes as high as one third experienced lingering symptoms for weeks to months, including profound fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, occasional fever, dysautonomia”—disorders of the nervous system— “and what some describe as brain fog or inability to concentrate.”
If you feel any of those symptoms, call a medical professional immediately. And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place until there’s a vaccine available: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.