Supporting your recovery after Covid-19
Most people who have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) recover completely within a few weeks. But some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.
Some of the reported long term effects include the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
- Memory, concentration or sleep problems
- Muscle pain or headache
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Loss of smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
- Dizziness when you stand
- Difficulty to focus your eyes
Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can damage many other organs as well. This organ damage may increase the risk of long-term health problems. Organs that may be affected by COVID-19 include:
Heart. – Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms. This may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.
Lungs. – The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19 can cause long-standing damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.
- Brain. – Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Supporting wellbeing during recovery
Eating well is important as your body needs energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to help you recover. Having a good intake of protein and energy rich foods supports you with rebuilding muscles, maintaining your immune system and increasing your energy levels to allow you to do your usual activities.
Sleep hygiene is the name given to a set of practices designed to help you prepare you for sleep. Alongside these practices, it is important to also take care of your routine in other respects e.g. making sure that you are eating well and exercising
Getting moving again
After a period of illness and inactivity, your muscles will be much weaker than normal and you will certainly be less fit than you were.
It is important to get back to your previous level of activity or possibly aim to be more active! By being active and starting some exercise you become stronger and fitter. You may notice your tiredness increase and some breathlessness at first but these should improve the stronger you get; this is a normal response to doing more exercise for all of us.
Mood and Anxiety
It is common to experience low mood after any illness. We know that relatives are just as likely (if not more so) to experience low mood than the person affected by COVID, irrespective of whether they had a hospital stay or recovery at home.
It’s easy to feel helpless when experiencing low mood but it is possible to tackle this by focussing on the things that you are able to do at the moment which you enjoy, find relaxing, which give you a sense of achievement or help you to feel connected to others.