Since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic most physicians and researchers have been focused on the acute effects of this viral illness. Fortunately, we are seeing more survival among the patients hospitalized with this devastating infection. What is now becoming clear is that apparent recovery from the acute phase of the infection and the ability to be discharged from the hospital does not prevent patients from having persistent symptoms.
A study from Italy, where the coronavirus had a devastating and lethal effect, indicates that many patients continue to have one or more symptoms following recovery and negative serologic testing. The study reports that 87% of a sample of recovered patients had at least one persistent symptom with many other patients having three or more. Symptoms noted in his population group included: fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, and chest pain. Disturbingly, some patients continued to need oxygen therapy for months after recovery, and others continued to have radiographic findings of scarring along with pulmonary function abnormalities.
What this all seems to be telling us is that recovered patients may need treatment and follow-up for a considerable period of time following a recovery from a COVID 19 infection, especially if they were hospitalized or needed intensive care support. Patients who have recovered and still have symptoms should discuss this with their physician, keeping in mind that many of the answers to the questions we have are yet to be found. This is clearly an evolving landscape.