The nightmare of the coronavirus doesn't end when you leave Intensive Care and are allowed to go home. Covid-19 can be fatal at any time, but it also attacks in the medium and long term.
Different international and Spanish research is starting to show results about the consequences of the virus on the body once the worst of the illness is over. According to a study featuring 143 Italian patients who had been released from hospital, which was published last week in the Jama Network medical journal, 87 per cent of them were still suffering from at least one symptom 60 days after becoming infected, and the scientific evidence shows that Covid-19 has a much longer-lasting effect than people in general realise.
One of the most unusual consequences of Covid-19 is that it can cause cerebral problems, from hallucinations to fatal vascular accidents, and this could be more common than was previously believed and even affects patients who only had mild symptoms, according to a study in the scientific magazine Brain.
A team of doctors from University College London studied the neurological symptoms of 43 patients who were hospitalised due to an infection which was confirmed as or suspected to be coronavirus. They discovered that there were ten cases of temporary cerebral dysfunction, twelve of brain inflammation, eight cerebral vascular accidents, and eight nerve lesions.
In one of its documents for medical professionals, the Spanish Ministry of Health says that "due to the analogy with SARS", Covid-19 patients may develop pulmonary fibrosis. This causes scarring of the lung tissue, which becomes thicker and harder, and causes respiratory difficulties for the patients.
Asthenia, dyspnea and weakness
The Costal del Sol hospital has attended to 68 patients who were admitted to a ward or the ICU with pneumonia, most of them bilateral, during the coronavirus crisis. After recovering, many patients suffered from asthenia (extreme fatigue), dyspnea (feeling of suffocation, generally associated with effort), muscular weakness and weight loss.
Doctors at the University Hospital in Santiago de Compostela are coming to similar conclusions to those of their colleagues in Malaga. Extreme fatigue, loss of muscle mass, sleep disturbance, alopecia and the urge to cry are common consequences in post-Covid patients.
This doesn't seem to be a direct result of the coronavirus, but once GP appointments began to get back to normal and doctors began to see more patients each day, they say more people are reporting that they suffered unusual hair loss during the lockdown period.
Fragility in older people
It is not only those who have had and survived coronavirus who face possible consequences. People who remained inside their homes for weeks without going out are also doing so, and that group includes elderly people who have been shielding because they are at risk.