Right now some of you might be sitting at home in self-quarantine not only because of a lockdown. But because you have tested positive for COVID-19.
The reason they are still at home is likely because they are suffering from either mild symptoms, like most of the victims of the flu, or they have no symptoms at all. Other victims, unfortunately, are hooked up to ventilators and BLS(Basic Life Support) machines in the hospital.
But since we are all potential victims of the virus, you might want to know if there are any long term health impacts, either in a mild case or a serious Case.
We don’t have yet the exact numbers, but the current report suggests that the vast majority of deaths from the virus have been the people who are suffering from other illnesses.
For instance, on March 18, Italy’s national health authority said 99% of deaths happened to people who are already ill for some other disease or underlying health problems. That doesn’t mean all people with underlying health problems will die, far from it.
The question is if you already have an underlying health problem, will it get worse after contracting the Virus?
And What about those who had no health issues in the past?
Firstly, it’s not only older people that die from the virus, as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) says that in the US alone, one in five people that have been affected in the USA are aged between 20 and 44 and in the UK, Health officials have said that there are some young people who have ended up in intensive care.
From that information, we can be sure a lot of healthy young people have gotten the virus so far and when we are talking about long term impacts regarding health, mostly we will be focussed on the cases of younger patients.
When you get the virus ( officially named SARS-CoV-2 ), it will invade your body and infect your cells. As of now 8 out of 10 people are reported to have only mild symptoms. This could include a fever and a cough and maybe some aching in the body.
Affected people will probably feel weak and drained but that’s because the body is trying to eject the infected cells.
People’s immune system will start to kick in and chemicals called cytokines will be released. These are signaling molecules that are trying to regulate your immunity.
In short, they are kicking the virus’s ass, but that will make some people feel they have no energy and cause the body aches(malaise). Others might have diarrhea or shortness of breath or even a loss of smell(hyposmia/anosmia) and taste(dysgeusia).
In short, many people’s immune system fight off the virus very well and some will have no symptoms at all. That doesn’t mean you should go out and rejoice though. Since even if you aren’t showing any symptoms you could still spread it to the other people who might develop worse symptoms.
As for how asymptomatic people can spread the disease, we still don’t know how many “Silent Killers” are spreading the disease.
The World Health Organisation has said transmission from asymptomatic patients is rare, but other studies differ from that analysis.
As you know it’s all the contradictory news reports that make this pandemic all the more annoying, confusing, and stressful.
We’ll be coming back to the topic of ‘stress’ again soon.
So, let’s say you’re one of those people who have severe breathing difficulties and ended up needing a ventilator to breathe. You might have Acute Respiratory distress syndrome ( ARDS ). Some people will recover from this, but for others, their long term quality of life will be affected negatively.
They might suffer lung damage that means they will be returning to hospital time and again. While others might suffer from muscle weakness. That’s unfortunately on the good end of the spectrum for ARDS, since in many cases it leads to organ failure or death. Even people who have a very severe case of this infection don’t get ARDS, they may be unfortunate enough to have other organs damaged, but this can happen with any severe infection.
We can look at acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by the previous coronavirus outbreak that led to MERS ( Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ) to try to get an idea of what the current outbreak will be like. Most patients made a full recovery, but some people did have long-term health effects such as chronic shortness of breath or coughing, while others suffered from kidney disease. Though it only occurred in a small percentage of those infected, health experts warn that when you have any kind of lung infection that makes breathing hard, kidney damages can happen.
Now back to cytokines we mentioned earlier.
It is a kind of overreaction of your immune system. The body might produce a massive inflammatory response, and this can also result in organ damage.
Since some people with SARS had long term health problems from this overactive immune response, some doctors worry it could be the same with SARS-CoV-2 .
It’s too early to tell for sure enough.
We should believe that these long term health problems might only affect people with pre-existing conditions or people who come down with a very severe case of this infection.
We don’t want to stress you!
But as we told earlier that we will be talking about stress, you should feel stress. But we also want you to feel positive. Yes, You heard that right. So don’t stress yourself and be positive. There are reports that many people are suffering from anxiety and depression because they think they might contract COVID-19, but they don’t know that anxiety and depression actually weaken your immune system and you can become more susceptible to other diseases.
Sit at home, And Stay Safe.
Himanshu Jindal-GSVM Medical College