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Are you a Covid-19 survivor, but still feel fatigued and not having fully recovered? You may be experiencing what is known as “Long Covid”. The symptoms may not be life-threatening, but can persist for months and impact daily life, experts say. PixabayWhile most patients who were affected with SARS-CoV — the virus behind the deadly coronavirus — and recovered, may do fine, but some are likely to face symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, and depression, according to the US National Institutes of Health.
“Patients post-Covid on the recovery stage can have multiple symptoms which includes weakness, myalgia, joint pain, breathlessness, cough, headache, and anxiety. Some of these symptoms are due to persistent respiratory dysfunction during the recovery phase of Covid infection and breathlessness is due to residual lung damage,” Dr. Praveen Gupta, Director, and Head, Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.
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For those past middle age, the condition seems to be more critical.
“Covid survivors, especially after middle age, develop breathlessness and easy fatigue on exertion. Lung functions are compromised. Some would always continue to have reduced lung function in the form of breathlessness on exertion as fibrosis is seen. The degree of fibrosis in each case will decide the sequelae,” said Dr. Ravindra Gupta, Sr Consultant, Internal Medicine at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram.
The symptoms are not life-threatening once you recover from the disease, but can affect the quality of life, the health experts said, adding, however, it is still too early to say how long the post-Covid symptoms could continue.
According to a large global study of the emerging “Long Covid syndrome”, reported in January, nearly half of more than 3,700 self-described Covid “Long Haulers” in 56 countries could not work full time six months after unexpectedly developing prolonged symptoms of Covid-19.
Another study led by the University of Washington in the US reported in February that about one in three patients who survived Covid, continue to complain months later of symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and brain fog.
In April first week, about 1.1 million Britons reported having long Covid symptoms, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.
“These symptoms are usually short-lasting and resolve with appropriate medication in a few months. These symptoms are not life-threatening,” Gupta said.
The condition may not be widespread in India.
“Majority of Covid infections are self-limiting and do not have any long-term consequences. In a few cases, anosmia and malaise remain and might persist for a long duration. But no major post-Covid complications are reported,” Dr. Harshal R. Salve, Associate Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, told IANS.
“Major studies are undergoing to assess long-term impacts of Covid and the vaccines against it,” he added. (IANS/GA)
As the Covid pandemic has overtaken every other health issue throughout the country, some of the doctors have suggested extra precaution for tuberculosis (TB) patients as the virus affects the lungs directly. World TB Day is observed on March 24 every year to raise awareness about the disease in the world.
The doctors said that TB patients often have underlying co-morbidities and lung damages that might make them more prone to the coronavirus. They further said that the symptoms of TB and Covid are quite similar, for instance, cough and fever, which could not only create diagnostic confusion but might worsen the stigmatization of a TB patient.
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“TB and Covid primarily affect lungs. As far as tuberculosis is concerned, Covid and TB are not directly interlinked but on the basis of scientific elucidation like any other chronic disease, one is at the higher risk of Covid’s severity, especially those patients with structural damage,” Shiba Kalyan Biswal, Consultant, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Narayana Hospital, Gurugram told IANS.
Biswal informed that as per WHO’s estimate between 2020 and 2025 an additional 1.4 million TB deaths could be registered as a direct consequence of the Covid pandemic. “Talking about my own experience till date, around 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent TB patients were infected with Covid. Hence both the diseases need equal attention and should be dealt with a serious approach,” he said.
TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4,000 lost their lives to TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
“According to estimates by the WHO, there are over 10 million new cases in the world. It also added that the pandemic is larger than previously estimated, owing to data from India. 60 percent of TB cases are concentrated in six countries. India Leads the pack, closely followed by Indonesia and China, while Nigeria, Pakistan is not far behind. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is particularly hard to treat using medicines that are currently available in the market,” said Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.
“Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body such as the brain and spine. The disease spreads from one person to another through the air when an infected person coughs, speaks or sings. People with HIV infection and or other immunocompromised health conditions; who became infected with TB bacteria in the last 2 years and/or not treated correctly for TB in the past; those who inject illegal drugs; babies, young children, and the elderly; are at a higher risk of getting infected,” Piyush Goel, Senior Consultant- Pulmonary and Critical Care, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurugram told IANS.
ALSO READ: Ways to Safeguard Yourself From Tuberculosis
The doctor said Detection of TB in the early stages is key to prevention and better treatment outcomes. However, in the past year, Covid-19 has dealt a serious blow to the screening exercise — as per a recent report, TB notifications in India declined 70 percent between the 10th and 15th-week last year.
“The WHO is correct in determining this year’s theme as ‘The Clock is Ticking’ — there is an urgent need to address the lag that happened due to Covid-19. TB is treated with antibiotics while multi-drug resistant (MDR) and also with a 6-drug regimen,” he added. (IANS/SP)
Amid cases of new variants of mutated SARS-CoV-2 emerging in India, it has become important to understand how the symptoms of different new variants vary from the original one. According to new studies, the UK variant or the Kent variant — B.1.1.7 — spreads more easily and quickly than other variants.
The UK-based New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) recently reported that the Kent variant may be up to 70 percent more deadly than previous strains.
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Health experts have cited that those who test positive for the variant are more likely to report persistent cough, tiredness, muscle aches, sore throat, and fever compared to those who have the original strain. In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7.
Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant were reported in the US at the end of January 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have already announced that they are working to modify their vaccines — and possibly to create booster shots — to better protect against the South African variant.
A variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.
According to various reports, the three variants carry the same genetic mutation – E484K – that allows it to evade the immune defenses in the body, leading to infection. However, the mutated variants are comparatively new and under the radar by various health experts and scientists, so, it may take a while for us to know the exact symptoms of these variants.
“First of all, viruses do have a tendency to mutate, all we have to do is to ensure safety and required precautions to reduce the risk,” Gitali Bhagawati, Consultant and Head, Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.
“Secondly, there is a factor called virulence, which means the ability of a microbial strain to cause disease. It is unknown in South African and Brazilian mutant strains,” Bhagawati added.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found a total of 192 Covid-19 cases of the new variants of mutated SARS-CoV-2 in the last two months, including four from the variant emerging in South Africa and one from the Brazilian variant. ICMR Director General, Balram Bhargava, however, noted that no mortality has been reported so far in the cases that contracted the UK variant as well as those who are infected by the variants from South Africa and Brazil. (IANS)
Temperature data collected by wearable devices worn on the finger such as a ring can be reliably used to detect the onset of fevers, a leading symptom of both Covid-19 and the flu, say researchers. In a study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, more than 65,000 people wearing a ring manufactured by Finnish startup Oura, recorded temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and levels of activity.
The goal of the study is to develop an algorithm that can predict the onset of symptoms such as fever, cough, and fatigue, which are characteristic of Covid-19.
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“With wearable devices that can measure temperature, we can begin to envision a public Covid early alert system,” said study author Benjamin Smarr from the University of California, San Diego in the US.
Wearables such as the Oura ring can collect temperature data continuously throughout the day and night, allowing researchers to measure people’s true temperature baselines and identify fever peaks more accurately.
“Temperature varies not only from person to person but also for the same person at different times of the day,” Smarr said. The study highlights the importance of collecting data continuously over long periods of time. Incidentally, the lack of continuous data is also why temperature spot checks are not effective for detecting Covid-19.
These spot checks are the equivalent of catching a syllable per minute in a conversation, rather than whole sentences, Smarr said. In the study, the research team noticed that fever onset often happened before subjects were reporting symptoms, and even to those who never reported other symptoms.
It supports the hypothesis that some fever-like events may go unreported or unnoticed without being truly asymptomatic,” the researchers wrote. Wearables therefore may contribute to identifying rates of asymptomatic illness as opposed to unreported illness, which is of special importance in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need to make sure that our algorithms work for everyone,” Smarr said. In the future, researchers plan to expand their early detection methods to other infectious diseases, such as the flu. (IANS)